No love from gov on lower Bird River, mining exploration increases
WINNIPEG – In a letter to the Wilderness Committee, Premier Brian Pallister’s government has said no to protecting one of the province’s most popular paddling rivers from increasing mineral exploration, despite 10,000 Manitobans writing letters asking for the river to be preserved. In response, the Wilderness Committee will again run a Paddle for Protection on the lower Bird River to coincide with World Rivers Day on Sept. 22.
“Ignoring the environment and water protection is not moving the province forward,” said Wilderness and Water Campaigner Eric Reder. “Care for our water is critical and governments must step up.”
The Bird River flows from Ontario into protected portions of Nopiming Provincial Park before emptying into the Winnipeg River. A wild 17 km section, the lower Bird River, is not protected after it flows out of Nopiming. In 2013, a plan to drain water contaminated by mine operations into the lower Bird River stirred Manitobans to call for protection of the river. The drainage plan was stopped but subsequent mining claims have been staked along the river.
“It is far past time to protect the lower Bird River, a wild and pure gem in southeast Manitoba,” said Reder. “People are showing up for the river. The government said no now but we will drag them kicking and screaming into protecting this river and water across the province.”
Each year since 2013, the Wilderness Committee and water enthusiasts have paddled the river to learn more about this fragile ecosystem and why it must be protected immediately.
“Massive algae blooms, beaches closed for too much human and animal faeces in the water, pay-to-drain wetland policies and rivers remaining unprotected, decisions on water have been all downhill over the past 3 years,” said Reder. “Anyone who’s planning on running the province had better start taking water care seriously because people are getting angry at government’s lack of action.”
Eric Reder | Wilderness and Water Campaigner