Great Bear TIS – dispatch 2

Above the Rockies in a plane, just 82 km (50 miles) east of Prince George, you lose sense of the colossal scale of this range apparent from the ground. The bird’s eye view makes canyons and peaks seem surmountable. But, thinking about how Enbridge Inc. might construct a pipeline through this terrain left me wondering.

Steven Garman and I were well above 7,500 feet in elevation as we made the best use of fuel efficiency at higher altitudes before dropping to photograph near our first coordinates. Steven can get us where we need to go with a decked-out console in the plane, and a GPS unit, that marvels any that I have seen. I can keep up with him with my own Nikon GP-1, a newly purchased piece of gear I attach to my camera body so I can embed GPS coordinates into the metadata of each digital file I make. Both toys were obviously necessary so we can capture imagery along and in close proximity to the pipelines route with accuracy.

Conservation efforts are always about collaboration. This is just how it works. So, when Steven and I got a chance to connect with Frank Wolf, a filmmaker and writer specializing in adventure and environmental advocacy, we were gifted with the invaluable insight we could use throughout our assignment. Frank had walked the length of the pipelines route, traversing landscapes and watercourses, and had observed key locations along the way. His anecdotes mirrored what we saw from above. Near Monkman Provincial Park, in the Hart Ranges of the Rocky Mountains, a tapestry of natural cover is seen: alpine meadows, jagged mountain peaks, forested valleys, thundering waterfalls, and clear alpine lakes detail the environment. As does the Murray River which skirts just north of the park where the proposed pipelines would cross it at 54º48’06’’ N and 121º12’42’’ W.

From there we headed west. Steven’s GPS picked up 10 satellites and mine at least 3. Comparing our respective GPS readings, we were off only a tenth of a second, and we were getting to know our tools, techniques, and each other better.