©Garth Lenz-2

Photos:  Garth Lenz

It was a little over a year since I had been in the Peace River Valley. Back in June 2014, I visited the region to take photographs and to produce a film on the land, farms and wildlife that would be forever altered, or completely destroyed, to make way for the biggest and most expensive mega-project in the province’s history.

At that time it all seemed so distant and abstract. Would we really flood more than 100 kilometres of some the richest agricultural land in the north and destroy farms that date back to the first non-native settlers in the region? Were we really willing to clearcut and flood key habitat for a wide range of wildlife? Were we really willing to turn our back on the rights of First Nations who have called this valley home for perhaps 10,000 years? These questions were answered for me in the most brutal fashion when I returned this past November.

In just a few short months, the forests, islands and grazing lands of the proposed dam site were completely eradicated. Beautiful forests with massive cottonwood trees I had walked through had been reduced to clearcuts and slash piles. Machines dredged the river as bulldozers pushed debris and soil into it. When I took to the air, the true scale of the devastation could be seen clearly and extended far beyond the banks of the river.

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