Grizzly bears and mining in the Cheviot Region: A partnership with the Foothills Model Forest for knowledge, technology development, and innovation applied at Elk Valley Coal's Cardinal River Operations
Foothills Model Forest (FMF) is a not-for-profit corporation based out of Hinton, Alberta. It has been producing applied research since its start in 1992. It is with strong partnerships that it promotes science and understanding of sustainability as an ongoing process. The FMF is driven by a Board interactive partnership of over ninety (90) partners. The FMF has engaged individuals, communities, organizations, academia, government agencies and corporations whose activities add information and value to industry’s ability to manage for sustainability. The research and processes developed by the FMF are being used and have been recognized provincially, nationally and internationally.
The FMF partnership has added value to the mining industry’s sustainable management practices and specifically for Elk Valley Coal’s Cardinal River Operations, who in late 2004 began development of the Cheviot Mine. The Cheviot Mine was a strong foundation by which the mining industry would be a catalyst in the development of the FMF Grizzly Research Program (GRP). In the mid-1990s, the Cheviot Mine application identified that there was much to learn about regional grizzly bear populations; their demographics, and the influence that mining as well as other regional resource development is currently, and would be likely to have, on grizzly bears. The FMF GRP was subsequently initiated in the fall of 1998, with Cardinal River Operations as a lead partner.
Since 1999, the FMFGRP has been conducting world leading research and monitoring technology development for grizzly bears. The innovation and knowledge garnered through this partnership impacts not just the mining industry, but also the forest industry, the oil and gas industry, the recreation industry, local governments and communities. In this partnership, Cardinal River Operations has been actively involved in extraordinary research, methodologies and processes that have far reaching positive effects across Canada. The FMF partnership has provided Cardinal River Operations the ability to participate in the innovation and technology development that allows us to adopt better sustainable management practices.
Cardinal River Operations and FMFGRP have recently collaborated to support a research thesis which tests inductive models which have been used to predict effects of open mining on grizzly bears. Such research provides the first empirical study of its kind which looks closely at open pit mining and grizzly bears. The research findings are far reaching and will have implications to current and future mining projects. Further, it has provided insight which will certainly benefit post mining land use decision making.