Points of Departure

 What was here before the boom?

Alberta and British Columbia stretch westward across the Rockies from open plains to the Pacific Ocean. Prairies and the boreal forest give way to narrow fjords and surf-beaten islands. Vast areas of these provinces are roadless, sparsely inhabited especially in their northern halves.  The cloth of this landscape is woven exceedingly fine with threads of muskeg and moss, bears and salmon. One fourth of the world’s undisturbed forests lie within the boreal areas of Canada. Watery muskeg covers lowlands with spruce and larch; fir, poplar, and pine grow on drier ground. Sixty percent of Canada’s inland waters are within the cold-adapted boreal regions. Many millions of birds from all corners of North America rely on this region during their migration to and from the Arctic. Moose, caribou, and wolves roam its trackless wilderness. Farther west, Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, extending from Vancouver Island to the Alaska border, is among the world’s largest surviving temperate rainforests. Here grizzlies and the ghostly Spirit Bear move among fjords that lead toward the open Pacific. 

But the boom has arrived.  A massive hydrocarbon reserve, second  in volume only to Saudi Arabia, lies beneath the boreal forest of northeast Alberta.  The presence of bitumen and the world’s thirst for oil are changing the boreal forest and the BC coast.

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