Local government officials and environmentalists are decrying the decision by BC Timber Sales (BCTS) to move ahead with plans for logging about 53 hectares of old-growth forest in the Dakota Creek community watershed on Mount Elphinstone.
The timber sale was deferred last month after environmental groups raised concerns, and one of the cutblocks — the 15-hectare Roberts Creek headwaters forest — was removed from the sale.
The remaining four cutblocks in Dakota Bowl, however, were posted for sale by BCTS on Oct. 10, with Nov. 7 set as the expiry date for the sale.
The decision by BCTS was disappointing, Donna Shugar, Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) director for Roberts Creek, said at the Oct. 17 planning and development committee meeting.
“My disappointment is that it appears that the concerns expressed twice by the regional district — about the Dakota watershed and old growth — are not being heard,” Shugar, who chairs the committee, said.
West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull said she was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision.
Directors voted to once again express their dismay over the sale in a letter to BCTS.
They also voted to hold a meeting with the Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) council to discuss watersheds outside of the primary Chapman Creek watershed, and possibly request a follow-up meeting with BCTS.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this as a community watershed,” Chief Garry Feschuk, director for SIB, said at the meeting in reference to Dakota Creek.
Hans Penner of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), one of the groups that pressed BCTS for a review, said he was shocked to see the remaining cutblocks put up for sale before technical reports on the area were made available.
With 35 per cent grades in many areas and road reconstruction that will include 56 new culverts, Penner questioned the economics of logging the area.
“There was a reason this was left when the large-scale industrial logging went through here in the past,” Penner wrote in a letter to BCTS. “It is a naturally protected area surrounded by steep slopes and gullies. It made no sense, economically, to log it in the past and it makes no sense now.”
ELF’s concerns include the impact of road building and logging on the watershed, fish habitat and a Terasen gas pipeline situated downslope of the proposed area.
“We don’t see any justification from a public point of view,” Penner said.
Gambier Island logging
Meanwhile, the SCRD board is seeking more information after it received a copy of a form letter sent to Forests Minister Steve Thomson opposing plans to license two woodlots on Gambier Island.
The letter, sent by five property owners, including Future of Howe Sound Society director Jeff Gau, said the plan “would mean nearly half of the island’s Crown lands and one quarter of the entire island will be subjected to clear-cut logging.”
Directors voted to get more information from Islands Trust, which handles the planning function for Gambier Island.
“To me Islands Trust should be supporting the people on the island because that’s their job,” board chair Garry Nohr said. “I don’t mind helping them, but I hope they’re doing something too.”
Questions and answers about the woodlot licences supplied by the Ministry of Forests can be read on the Islands Trust web page at www.islandstrust.bc.ca/islands/local-trust-areas/gambier.aspx.