Lands & Resources


Please see the News Feed below for stories and reports.


Please see the News Feed below for stories and reports.

  • Crown Mountain Coal Coking: April 23 Ktunaxa-only session

    Find the ZOOM link here -->

    Please note, this session is for Ktunaxanin̓tik only.

    Thank you.

  • What's New: Open Houses for Crown Mountain Coking Coal Project


    • Public Open Houses are coming up in Cranbrook, Sparwood and online about the Crown Mountain Coking Coal project.
    • In addition, there will be Ktunaxa-only information sessions later this spring.
    • The Crown Mountain Project is proposed for Qukin ʔamakʔis (the Elk Valley), and it’s worth your attention.
    • Below is some background about it, and details about opportunities for Ktunaxanin̓tik to comment.
    • LINK: Regulatory Open Houses
    • LINK: Project Executive Summary
    • COMING SOON: Ktunaxa Engagement Session Details
    • SIGN UP for UPDATES:


    You may start hearing more about the “Crown Mountain Coking Coal” Project in coming days.

    This is a proposed “valley fill” coal mine that is proposed in Qukin ʔamakʔis, (the Elk Valley.)

    The proponent is NWP Coal.

    This Project proposal has been in development for a decade.

    Ktunaxa Nation Leadership was made aware of the proposal in 2014.

    Since that time, Ktunaxa Leadership, with support from Lands & Resources staff, have reviewed the proposed project to identify areas of concern and opportunities for Ktunaxa.

    The Environmental Assessment (EA) documentation itself is a few thousand pages of information.

    The EA covers a whole range of factors:

    • Where the Project would be
    • What kind of mining would occur
    • How the mined coal could be removed from the area
    • How values would be impacted: Water, wildlife, cultural sites, and cumulative effects and more
    • Which methods are proposed to protect those values or mitigate the impacts
    • Potential economic benefits and costs
    • and much more.

    Now, NWP Coal has submitted its EA application to Provincial and Federal regulators, as is required.

    It's the first step in an engagement period where all members of the public can attend open houses with government regulators to learn about the proposal, and to comment.

    For the general public, there is one-month period to engage, starting with open houses in Cranbrook, Sparwood, and online.

    (Details are below.)


    Good news:
    For Ktunaxanin̓tik, the opportunity to learn about and comment on the project is longer than one month.

    Ktunaxa Nation Council will conduct engagement sessions with Ktunaxanin̓tik to review keys aspects of the proposed project. Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it will also conduct engagement sessions with its members.

    The feedback from these Ktunaxa-only engagement sessions will be worked into official responses that Ktunaxa Nation Council and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it will send to regulators.

    As well, regulators and the project proponent will have the opportunity to hear directly from Ktunaxanin̓tik during these additional engagements, and we're hoping to arrange site visits for Ktunaxa later this spring.

    These engagements are opportunities for Ktunaxa to have our voices heard, and to make a difference in how the project might proceed, or if it will proceed.

    Because the EA is in its first stages, elements of the project design can be altered in response to our feedback.


    1) Ktunaxanin̓tik Engagement Sessions: TBA

    We're planning Ktunaxa-only information sessions later this Spring, as soon as we can arrange them.

    How can we contact you with the details of these sessions?

    If you have signed up to be on the email list, we will send you the information.

    If you haven’t signed up, please email with a request to be on the email list so we can add your contact details.

    Thank you!

    You can also call us at 250-489-2464, and ask for Brandy Craig.

    2) February Open Houses: Public

    Tuesday, February 13, 2024

    12:00 - 3:00 PM MST
    Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort (209 Van Horne Street)

    Wednesday, February 14, 2024

    4:00 - 7:00 PM MST
    Causeway Bay Hotel (102 Red Cedar Drive)

    3) Virtual Information Session: Public

    Wednesday, February 21, 2024
    5:00 - 7:00 PM MST
    Click here to register:

    CLICK HERE to see the details


    NWP Coal Canada Limited is seeking a Mines Act permit, which would allow:

    • An average production capacity of approximately 2 million tonnes of coal per year from three open pits over 15 years
    • A disturbance of approximately 850 hectares
    • Employment of up to 500 during construction and 330 during operation

    Full details of the Crown Mountain Coking Coal application can be found here, in the Executive Summary document. (121 pages)

  • Workshops in development to inform Ktunaxa on mining exploration

    Photo: Site tour at the Kootenay West gypsum mine.

    By Jamie Smithson, Project Officer – Mining Oversight, Lands and Resources Sector

    Kiʔsuʔk kyukyit,

    ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa has a diverse range of geological deposits with many proposed and existing exploration programs.

    In recent years, Ktunaxa have expressed significant concerns around several exploration programs that are in sensitive areas.

    Although exploration has less impacts than full-scale mining, the impacts can still be very damaging to sensitive areas.

    In addition, Ktunaxa do not often see the justification of exploration impacts when Ktunaxa would likely not provide their consent to full mine development.

    That said, there is an interest in learning more about the typical deposits and mining methods that may be deployed within ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa to support confident, informed, decision making and help Ktunaxa determine which exploration programs are too risky as well as those that may be acceptable.

    One of the functions of the existing Ktunaxa and British Columbia Strategic Engagement Agreement (SEA) is to facilitate deep engagement on topics that are important to Ktunaxa.

    With direction and support from Ktunaxa First Nation staff and Lands & Resources Sector Council, KNC have submitted a “Ktunaxa Engagement Request” to B.C. on mining as a whole in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa – with a focus on prospecting to advanced exploration and feasibility.

    The current idea is to work with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI) on the development of a series of workshops and presentations on mining as a whole in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa – with a combination of higher level citizen engagement sessions and more detailed technical sessions for staff and citizens that have a deep interest in mining.

    Potential topics to be discussed include:

    • Types of mining (e.g. mineral exploration, placer, gravel pit, coal, etc.)
    • Types of minerals of interest and where certain minerals are found
    • Locations of past and present exploration
    • Typical impacts from each mining method
    • Reclamation and cumulative effects
    • Enforcement and compliance

    These workshops are being developed.
    To express your interest and stay informed, please email

    If you have any questions, ideas and/or are interested in learning more – please feel free to reach out to myself (
    or Erin Robertson (

  • KNC Forest Standards Document

    By Chris Joseph
    KNC Forestry Authorizations Coordinator

    Kiʔsuʔk kyukyit qapi niskiⱡ.

    The KNC Forestry department would like to present the KNC Forest Standards Document.

    It is the beginning of building a framework for Ktunaxa forest policy.

    The intent of the document is to provide for improved Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) standards with consideration of Ktunaxa values and increase precautionary management (consistent with Ktunaxa stewardship principles for ʔa·kxamis q̓api qapsin - All Living Things) in the short term.

    The document was developed with the help of Lands staff from the Ktunaxa Nation Council and all four of the Ktunaxa Nations in Canada.

    The KNC FSD is considered a ‘living document’ and will be subject to review via the Cultural Conservation Value Forest program.

    As you may know, B.C. has enacted new legislation to shape forestry operations planning that begins with First Nations and BC Provincial government consultations.

    These consultations will be focused on the development of Forest Landscape Plans (FLP) for Timber Supply Areas.

    The FLP will replace the FSP and be aligned with a Timber Supply Review.

    Incorporation of the KNC FSD into the Timber Supply Review modelling can help produce an estimate of available timber for harvest that is based on the measures outlined throughout the document.

    This will be instrumental in the implementation of a Ktunaxa plan for the preservation and enhancement of Ktunaxa cultural values.

    KNC are hoping that through the implementation of KNC Forest Standards Document the Ktunaxa community can become more involved in the review and decision making processes in all major timber harvest operations and minor tenures.

    Click HERE to review the document draft.

    Thank you for sharing any comments below.

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  • Columbia Lake East Side

    By Kris Belanger, Land Stewardship Planner

    June 25, 2022 was a good day.

    It was a day that children, elders, Ktunaxa citizens and KNC staff gathered to share and listen to stories, thoughts and feelings about Columbia Lake East Side.

    This Call to Gather was a part of the Columbia Lake East Side stewardship planning work.

    The east side of Columbia Lake overlooks the headwaters of the Columbia River, and its landforms are rooted in the Ktunaxa Creation Story.

    It is a place to harvest plants, medicines and animals and has trails that connect to other parts of ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa and the prairies.

    The landscape is excellent winter range for Bighorn sheep, elk and deer, and provides habitat for several species at risk. It is part of important north-south and east-west wildlife corridors that connect the Purcell and Rocky Mountains and support wide-ranging carnivores such as Grizzly Bear.

    Located along the Pacific Flyway, the Columbia Lake Wetlands and the wetland complex extending to the north provide important nesting and rearing habitat for waterfowl and migratory birds.

    Today, recreational use, residential and resort development, forest in-growth and climate change are all impacting the cultural and ecological values on this landscape.

    A patchwork of management regimes are currently in place on the east side, including Columbia Lake Provincial Park, the East Side Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area, Nature Conservancy of Canada and Nature Trust of BC holdings, and Local Governments.

    A Ktunaxa stewardship plan for Columbia Lake East Side
    is meant to look beyond jurisdictional boundaries,
    to present Ktunaxa stewardship interests and
    express Ktunaxa stewardship authority.

    Part of the conversation on June 25 was about "8200 Bighorn Lane," the residential-zoned property purchased by KNC (with a standing offer to purchase for ʔakisq̓nuk) in order to protect the pictographs accessed from this site.

    Some ideas shared by attendees were to purchase more land around the pictographs in the near term, and to install interpretive material on the site.

    More conversations are needed in order to develop options for consideration.

    After some stories and sharing at the pictographs, the group moved to the north end of Columbia Lake, where we accessed the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Lot 48 property.

    After lunch beside Lansdowne Creek, many people made the hike to another set of pictographs.

    During the hike Lillian Rose found an arrowhead sitting right on the trail surface!

    Several mountain bikes crossed our path, which led to conversations about the current uses and impacts of the uses on the Columbia Lake East Side.

    Upon returning to camp, conversations about what needs to be done to take care of Columbia Lake East side continued.

    The day ended with a presentation by Cisco, sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge of archaeology with the group.

    Many more conversations with Ktunaxa ʔakⱡmaknik need to occur before drafting a stewardship plan for Columbia Lake East Side.

    Our hope is to continue to have these conversations on the land and in a way that is informative, fun and meaningful.

    Future engagement opportunities could dive deeper on topics such as trails and recreation, the role of fire in this ecosystem, wildlife and how this area connects to the broader landscape.

    Stay tuned for an upcoming video being produced to share some of the conversations and knowledge about the Columbia Lake East Side.

  • Update on Upper Fording River Westslope Cutthroat Trout

    By Kamila Baranowska, MSc, RPBio, Aquatic Biologist

    The Westslope Cutthroat Trout (WCT) population in the Upper Fording River (i.e. the Fording River upstream of Josephine Falls) near Elkford has experienced a dramatic decline in numbers between 2017 and 2019. Adult fish numbers have dropped from about 5,200 (in 2017) to only 330 fish (in 2019).

    The latest monitoring data is showing that the adult fish numbers are at 1,500 in 2021.

    The River is severely impacted by coal mining, with three coal mines operating in the Upper Fording (Greenhills Operations, Fording River Operations, and Line Creek Operations).

    It is also impacted by forestry, but to a lesser extent than mining. WCT are the only fish species in the Upper Fording River and are genetically pure and of high conservation value.

    Recreational fishing in the Upper Fording River has been closed since 2010 due to concerns around the fish numbers.

    After the decline occurred, Teck hired a team of subject matter experts, consisting mainly of consultants that already do extensive work for Teck on existing monitoring and project approvals, to conduct an evaluation of cause (EoC) for the decline.

    The EoC was completed in December 2021 and concluded that decline was caused by: “the interaction of extreme ice conditions (due to extreme, prolonged, cold air temperatures; seasonal, winter low flows; and low winter snowpack), sparse overwintering habitats and restrictive fish passage conditions during the preceding migration period in fall 2018. While stressors such as cold weather are natural, mining development has altered the availability of overwintering habitats in portions of the river and has exacerbated the challenges to fish passage through water use, channel widening and aggradation”.

    KNC technical staff generally agree with the findings of the EoC but believe that the EoC team could have done a better job investigating and describing the links between mining operations and the stressors affecting the fish.

    The development of pits, sediment ponds, diverting creeks, infilling creeks, and consumptive water use all impact flow in the Fording River; however, the EoC did not look at the cumulative impacts of these on surface or groundwater flows and fish habitat in the river.

    After extensive feedback from technical staff, the EoC team agreed that the cumulative impacts of mining on surface and groundwater flows is a significant knowledge gap and recommended that Teck undertake a study to better understand/manage it. Teck has also begun undertaking some actions to aid in fish recovery, such as looking at ways to reduce water use and identifying opportunities for fish habitat rehabilitation projects in the Upper Fording.

    The province has also began developing the Upper Fording WCT Recovery Plan with thorough engagement from KNC technical staff starting in September 2020.

    The plan identifies threats to the population and suggests actions that need to be taken to mitigate the threats and protect the population.

    KNC technical staff are still working with the province to ensure that the plan is robust, clear, and impactful to recovery.

    Staff will be reaching out to Ktunaxa citizens about the recovery plan, starting with the Lands Advisory Working Group in September. If you have questions or comments, please contact Kamila Baranowska at

  • Guardian Watch: First person by Cisco

  • Wetland Tour in Qukin ʔamakʔis

    By Jamie Smithson, Project Officer

    Kiʔsuk kyukyit,

    Teck Coal recently informed the Ktunaxa Nation Council about an upcoming project with Ducks Unlimited.

    The project looks to restore and offset selected wetlands in Qukin ʔamakʔis (Raven’s Land – also known as the Elk Valley).

    KNC staff were invited to attend a field trip looking at some potential candidate wetlands and to discuss options for enhancement — and the turnout was a promising start.

    Attending the tour was Jason Gravelle from Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it and from the KNC were Kristen Whitehead, Cisco Jimmy, Lance Thomas, Jaydon Francis, our new Biodiversity and Reclamation Specialist — Demi Gagnon, and myself (the other Jamie in Lands).

    We started our day equipped with some good, dry hiking boots and a thermos of coffee near Jaffray.

    The first wetland we visited looked like a stereotypical wetland, and was very productive and full of biodiversity. Evidence of past sina (beaver) activity and the abundance of ʔumk̓uǂ (pond-lily) showed it was a stable wetland. Our arrival sent a startled waq̓a (great blue heron) to flight. Red-wing blackbirds called and darted from reed to reed, while a pair of nesting trumpeter swans lazed around.

    (Above) A productive wetland. This wetland was very much alive and well.

    (Above) Lake-like wetland.

    The second wetland we visited resembled a small lake and was home to some kaxax (painted turtle) and could also be suitable habitat for nuqǂuki·n (loon). Some of us were lucky enough to see fish in the lake — sadly, I was not one of those lucky ones.

    (Above) Overgrown wetland

    The last wetland we visited in the Jaffray area was overgrown by tanaǂ (bulrush) and likely dries up in the summer. Though still used by some species, like red-winged blackbird, there were less options for restoration/enhancement for this wetland type.

    (Above) Wetland along Michel Creek Floodplain

    We loaded back into the trucks and headed over to the Corbin Road near Sparwood. The wetland was located behind an embankment on the Michel Creek floodplain. This wetland type is sometimes used by fish like longnose suckers and juvenile trout, if and when there is a connection to the river. This specific wetland had lots of ongoing sina activity.

    (Above) Group at the edge of Michel Creek

    Our last stop was a grassy field on the side of the Corbin Road. There was no sign of an existing wetland, but this site has the potential for constructing a wetland through excavation to the shallow groundwater.

    This fieldtrip was only the first step in what will be a lengthy project. Future site visits and more desktop work are needed to widdle down the candidate list. After sites are selected, specific plans can be drawn up. All in all, it was a great day out of the office and back on the land — and I didn’t even get my feet wet.

  • Monitoring fish habitat alterations

    By Kenton M. Andreashuk, Sr. Fishery Guardian

    Kisuk kyukyit!

    Change is good... sometimes!

    With the world awakening from the pandemic it seems that some people have not been as “sleepy” through the pandemic as others.

    I am referring to the amount of fish habitat alterations and shoreline destruction that we are encountering that happened in the last two years and this is a big change but not a good change.

    Jaydon Francis, Dean Nicholas, Lance Thomas and I have been out on the land and patrolling lakes and rivers in the ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa in increased intensity and regularity in the past two months.

    Why more intensely?

    We are patrolling more intense than in the past to help reduce alterations to fish and fish habitat that has occurred since the start of the pandemic. This level of alteration is unprecedented since I started working for Ktunaxa in 1999.

    For example, on Kootenay Lake, we are seeing an alarming level of fish habitat alterations.

    Realizing the need to protect Kootenay Lake fish and fish habitat the KNC along with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Province of BC and Regional District of Central Kootenay initiated a Foreshore Inventory Mapping Program (FIMP) in 2013 to inventory, assess and protect shoreline fish habitat and cultural and archeological values.

    This exercise took several days to complete and the entire shoreline of the lake was inventoried.

    This information was use to produce a Shoreline Guidelines Document or two that agencies and the public can access to understand what types of development and shoreline alterations are permitted. The FIMP was re-assessed in late 2021.

    It is through participating in the review of the 2021 FIMP that we learned just how much habitat has been lost since we were out on the water before the pandemic lock-down occurred.

    Kootenay Lake has lost an additional two percent of the available fish habitat.

    Two things to keep in mind here:

    1) Kootenay Lake shoreline fish habitat was not intact and had already been significantly altered by shoreline developments before the 2013 FIMP and

    2) this two percent equates to approximately four kilometers of Kootenay Lake shoreline.

    Let that sink in – four kilometers of habitat LOST! FOREVER, with most of these alterations happening in the last to years since we were not able to get out on the land to intervene.

    “What are these alterations?” you may ask.

    Shoreline alterations are almost entirely comprised of the actions of homeowners or land developers who clear the land and remove the trees and rocks that provide shoreline shelter and a home for small fish and the bugs that fish feed on. As Chris Luke Sr. once told me “If there is no fish habitat there are no fish!” In one recent case a landowner blasted away at a cliff face to put in a house and then dumped the blasted material in to the lake and covered up fish and native freshwater mussel habitat.

    So is there any good news, Kenton?

    Yes absolutely!

    Not all of the waters we patrol are as impacted as Kootenay Lake.

    I have also been able to work with the agencies to have restoration orders put in for some of the altered areas. I am also hopeful that by being more present on the land and waterways that we can make a difference as we did before the pandemic. The KNC saw the need for abilities to enforce Ktunaxa stewardship and provided support for me to train as a Fisheries Guardian. This means I am now able to use the federal Fisheries Act enforcement authorities that I have been appointed with to help protect fish and fish habitat in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa and I am very excited that Dean, Lance and Jaydon are also interested in becoming your next Fishery Guardians. They will go through the same training that I have gone through and carry the same legal enforcement authorities to help protect Ktunaxa values. More Fishery Guardians means more protection for fish and Ktunaxa values! This year we have taken direction from Ktunaxa First Nations to protect fish and fish habitat values more intensely than before and you will see us more often in the red Ktunaxa patrol boat on Kootenay Lake, Slocan Lake, Arrow Lakes Reservoir, Moyie Lake, St. Mary Lake, Columbia River, Kootenay River, St. Mary River and Bull River along with several other smaller water bodies.

    We welcome any staff or community members to join us on our patrols on the lakes and rivers so that you can see first hand the work that we do to help protect the land and water for all living things and for all Ktunaxa. If you are interested in joining us please contact Dean, Lance, Jaydon or myself.


    Kenton Andreashuk

    Sr. Fishery Guardian

    Ktunaxa Nation Lands and Resources

  • Kootenay Lake Kokanee Recovery: Success and adventure in challenging conditions

    By Ben Meunier, Fisheries Biologist

    Kokanee are an iconic fish species in Kootenay Lake.

    Historically very abundant, this population of land-locked salmon collapsed in 2013 as a result of human impacts to the lake’s ecosystem combined with natural causes.

    While numbers of spawning Kokanee observed in streams at the North end of the lake regularly exceeded 1 million fish prior to the collapse, numbers have remained below 100,000 for the past 7 years.

    The Ktunaxa Nation Council is currently leading Kokanee recovery efforts as part of the Kootenay Lake Action Plan, in collaboration with the Province of BC.

    In April and May 2022, a KNC fisheries team spent 6 weeks capturing Gerrard Rainbow Trout at the mouth of the Duncan River in an effort to reduce predator pressure on juvenile Kokanee and promote population recovery.

    The team was composed of fishing experts from the Flatbow Culture Preservation Group led by Robin Louie from Yaqan Nuʔkiy with the help of KNC’s ʔa·nusti technicians Lance Thomas and Jaydon Francis and Nupqu fisheries technician Dominique Nicholas.

    The goal of the field program was to capture 100 to 150 Rainbow Trout and 50 to 100 Bull Trout to help restore the predator-prey balance in the lake.

    Despite working at night in challenging conditions, the crew was quickly able to understand the patterns of fish movement at the mouth of the river and started catching fish consistently night after night.

    After measuring and weighing captured fish for scientific purposes, the crew would often continue to work late into the night to clean, fillet, and freeze fish for distribution to Ktunaxa communities.

    After 45 days of hard work, a total 149 Rainbow Trout and 62 Bull Trout were captured, successfully meeting the targets set by the scientific advisory team.

    By leading this important project, the KNC was able to ensure that the work was conducted in an ethical manner following the Ktunaxa ʔa·kxamis q̓api qapsin principle.

    Only the targeted fish were harvested and mitigation measures were successfully employed to minimize by-catch of non-targeted species.

    This project also enabled community members to spend time and reconnect with a culturally significant part of ʔamaʔkis Ktunaxa.

    Amongst all the memories and stories shared during the course of this project, the crew members will certainly remember their encounter in the middle of the night with a 6-foot long sturgeon that accidentally swam into their net and stared at them for a few moments before swimming away, unperturbed.

Page last updated: 25 Mar 2024, 01:22 PM