People of the Caribou Mountains
Text and photography by David Moskowitz
Over the course of our team’s explorations of the Caribou Mountains we have had the chance to meet many folks who live, work, and play in this unique region of the world. We have talked with and learned from First Nations people – whose families have been on this land for millennia – and vacationers from Europe here for just a week of vacation. We’ve talked with snowmobilers and backcountry skiers, loggers and environmental activists, foresters and wildlife biologists.
The variety of voices we have heard has given us a wide variety of perspectives on the ecology, economy, history and culture of the region. Here are just a few of the people who have shared some of their thoughts with us over the past year as we seek to collect stories and perspectives from people across the region.
Former logger Leanard Edwards, member of Splatsin First Nation, shared his thoughts about caribou and his other work as an environmental monitor from the Revelstoke Maternity pen where he helps look after the captive cows and calves.
Revelstoke Community Forest Corperation forester Kevin Bollefer and his dog gave us a tour of some of the experimental harvest methods they have been trying in order to minimize the impact of forestry activity on caribou.
Boris Boyko and Alice of the McLeod Lake First Nation, putting out food for caribou at an experimental feeding program for the Kennedy Siding Herd in the Hart Mountains.
Virginia Thompson, ecopyschologist and environmental activist, reviews land use maps at her home in Revelstoke.
Rami Rothkop, mill manager for Harrop-Procter Community Forest in the southern Selkirks.
Brian Pate, biologist for Wildlife Infometrics uses a spotting scope to search for caribou and other wildlife in the Hart Range.
Chief Roland Wilson of the West Moberly First Nation spoke with us about his people’s connection with their traditional homeland and the current state of caribou conservation in that region.
Paul Sarafinchan has been logging for three decades in the interior of British Columbia.
Kate Devine, of Revelstoke BC, spends her summers cruising timber (evaluating stands of trees for their lumber value) and her winters working as a backcountry ski guide.
Harley Poitras currently works as a log truck driver and informed us that “You can’t call yourself a log truck driver until you’ve rolled a truck at least once.”
David Walker allowed us to follow him around for a morning of work felling trees in the northern Selkirk Mountains.
Ryan “Dunny” Dunford kicked up some powder for us on his mountain sled on Boulder Mountain.
Doug Heard, a legend in the world of Canadian caribou biology, shared stories and his current interests in caribou conservation from his home outside of Prince George.
We interviewed Kootenai Tribal Chairman Gary Aitken Jr. along with biologists Scott Soults and Norm Merz at the tribal headquarters outside of Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The Kootenai tribe has taken on developing an updated management plan for mountain caribou on the USA side of their range for the USFWS. Gary noted to us that the Kootenai have a “covenant with the creator and a sacred obligation to care for the land.” Their goal was, rather than look at things “species by species”, to “take a ridgetop approach” in looking at how to “bring the ecosystem back to more natural levels.”
Gilbert Desrosiers is president of the Beaver Mountain snowmobile club in the West Kootenay mountains and has worked with the province of BC and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to ensure responsible riding in the Kootenays.
Three buddies from the eastern United States paused to chat with us at Kootenay Pass in the Southern Selkirks during their week-long backcountry ski vacation to the region.
Outward Bound Instructor Judith Roberston of Nelson British Columbia on a backcountry ski tour in the southern Selkirk mountains.
Harley Davis and Garret Napoleon of the Saulteau First Nation at the Klinze-sa Maternal pen where they help monitor captive caribou cows and calves.
Erik Leslie (left), the forester for the Harrop-Proctor Community Forest, and two board members look over a map of the region they are responsible for managing.
Gordie Hale takes a break from his work moving logs on a logging operation in the southern Selkirk Mountains.
Naomi Owens, Treaty Manager for the Saulteau First Nation discussed her people’s involvement in protecting caribou and other resources on their traditional territory.
Helicopter pilot Timothy Seabrook removing the door to his aircraft in the Hart Range.
Revelstoke Snowmobile Club president Daniel Kellie along with two club members, lean on the club’s new groomer close to the very popular Boulder Mountain trailhead, also the location of a dwindling number of mountain caribou.
Ecologist Greg Utzig of Nelson British Columbia was part of the negotiations to create the 2007 Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan which currently steers conservation efforts of caribou in British Columbia.
Some of wildlife Biologist Rob Serroya’s research includes investigations into the relationship between moose and wolf populations and their relationship to caribou population dynamics.
Along with collecting the stories of the people of this region, our team has been busy creating stories of our own out in the field. While we work to help create understanding across many groups of people and on a variety of geographic scales, the people, places, and wild animals of this region have been shaping who we are as well.
Marcus Reynerson in a blind we constructed in the Monashee Mountains in July of 2015.
Kim Shelton seeks shelter from the rain this summer in the southern Selkirk Mountains close to the Washington-BC border.
Colin Arisman skinning up through treeline in the Columbia Mountains in February 2016 on a multiday backcountry tour in the winter range for the North Columbia herd.
David Moskowitz inspects a recent clearcut in the Upper Seymour River on the west slope of the Monashee Mountains. Photo by Marcus Reynerson.