Dan Bouman, former executive director of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA), said the group deserved credit for its push to “pretty well put a stop to logging in the [Coast’s] winter ranges.”
The plan to classify 46,825 hectares in the Sunshine Coast timber supply area (TSA) as a winter range for goats was praised by Bouman, who described it as overdue.
“Although this outcome has been overdue for nearly 14 years, it is welcome news and a major event in that 46,825 hectares have been protected from logging,” said the current Town of Gibsons councillor. “There was a major effort by the SCCA to keep these lands from being logged while we were waiting for the plan to be established.”
The current chair of the SCCA, Jason Herz, declined an opportunity to speak on the matter.
“This subject has a lot of history with the SCCA, but all before my time on the board and as chair in particular,” Herz said.
The winter ranges closest to home include parcels near the Rainy River in Port Mellon and others near Narrows Inlet.
Deputy Minister of Forests Doug Konkin signed the order on May 7.
Konkin wrote that he had been satisfied that the now-protected areas contained necessary habitats for the winter goat and that the areas required “special management.”
The requirements issued by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations include that “primary forest activities are not permitted within the ungulate [hooved mammal] winter range.”
In addition to protecting the areas from forestry, the order banned the use of pesticides, except for use in fighting invasive plants or insects.
Any authorized forestry occurring in proximity to the winter ranges must be carried out during a certain time, between June 1 and Nov. 15, when the operations are not expected to disturb the habitat.
A long-standing issue between conservationists and the forestry sector had been helicopter logging, necessary for the harvesting of elevated areas.
“It wouldn’t do much good to set aside the whole area if you have an activity that displaces the goats,” explained Steve Gordon, a wildlife expert with the Ministry.
The biologist said that the winter and early spring months can be a challenging time for the goats.
He added that coastal goats are “somewhat unique” in their habits due to the area’s geographic characteristics.
“They use the forest habitats in the winter. In many cases, they actually move down in elevation in the winter, which is different than they behave in Interior ecosystems,” the biologist said. “On the Coast the snow is very wet and sticks around once it falls so they move down into the timber to get out of the snow.”
The older forest provides feed during the winter as well, he added.
“I think it’s an important conservation measure and it also contributes to things like old growth representation,” Gordon said.
Ungulate winter range management has been occurring to some degree in B.C. for 20 years.