MOBERLY LAKE, BC What?s the next best thing to spending a week traveling through the Muskwa-Kechika?
More than 100 people had the right idea when they were treated to a Muskwa-Kechika slide show by author and photographer Wayne Sawchuk on Saturday night.
Sawchuk officially launched his new, large format photobook, Muskwa-Kechika: The Wild Heart of Canada?s Northern Rockies, at the Moberly Lake Lodge.
Marce Fofonoff, Sawchuck?s partner at home and on the trail, said it best: ?As I see these photographs, I can just smell the grass and feel the sunshine and the wind in my face. I can hardly wait to saddle up the horses again.?
But before they?ll be doing that, Sawchuk has a hectic schedule ahead of him, promoting his book as an advocate for the Muskwa-Kechika itself, an area about one-and-a-half times the size of Switzerland, and as wild and pristine as Switzerland was maybe a milennium ago.
Indeed, the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area, established with Sawchuks?s help in the crucible of three Northern BC land use planning processes, is unique in the world.
?It has more species in greater abundance than anywhere else on the continent and that makes it of global importance,? Sawchuk says.
While maintaining the natural habitat for all of its creatures, including grizzly bears, moose and caribou, the Muskwa-Kechika Management Act also allows for mining and oil and gas exploration in some areas under stringent conservation requirements.
While the innovative management model is studied around the world as an example of wilderness conservation, few people know the Muskwa-Kechika as well as Sawchuk, who for the past 20 years has extensively traveled the area?s 6.3 million hectares. Up to eight weeks at a time every summer, Sawchuk leads his packtrain of horses over barely existing wildlife trails, gazing into valleys few people have ever set eyes on.
At the launch, the audience was equally thrilled with the stunning photographs from those two decades of traveling, spiced up with the author?s anecdotes. It is no wonder, then, that the book is already hard on its way to becoming a bestseller. The book was designed and produced by Don Pettit and his creative team at Peace photoGraphics in Dawson Creek. It can be previewed on the Internet at www.MuskwaKechika.com.
?The more people who care about the Muskwa-Kechika, the better the chance that this unique wilderness and wildlife area will survive humanity?s relentless march of progress. I?d like to see this area preserved, not only for the wildlife, but also so that many generations from now, people will be able to take the same pictures I have been priviliged to take.?