BC Timber Sales (BCTS) has decided to drop the cutblock known as the Roberts Creek headwaters ancient forest from its future harvesting plans, BCTS planning forester Norm Kempe has confirmed.
The 15-hectare cutblock, designated as DK045, had been removed from the current timber sale for Mount Elphinstone after a team of scientists identified “unique ecological/cultural attributes.”
“We did that in late August, and as a result of that and concerns we heard from the public, we decided to let this one go,” Kempe said Wednesday in an interview.
After Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) “managed to elevate the issue in the public’s eye,” Kempe said his office was contacted by “a number of individuals” requesting the cutblock be permanently set aside.
“And we said OK. It’s part of the consultation process,” he said, noting the status of the cutblock had been “a running issue” for more than two years.
ELF hailed the decision in an Oct. 30 press release.
“For three years we held back logging plans, and so it’s very rewarding now to know that this magnificent stand will remain for its own sake and for future generations to appreciate,” Ross Muirhead said.
Containing culturally modified trees, more than 340 rare Pacific yews, and yellow cedar and hemlock that are up to 1,800 years old, DK045 is “a very special forest,” Muirhead added.
“We’d like to thank all those who supported the campaign, including BCTS staff who considered new information we brought forward about this block,” he said.
While DK045 was removed from the current sale, about 53 hectares of old growth forest in Dakota Bowl is still included in the BCTS harvesting plan for Mount Elphinstone.
This Monday, Nov. 4, Kempe said he would be accompanying a carnivore specialist from the Ministry of Environment into Dakota Bowl to evaluate the area for bear dens. ELF has called for BCTS to designate two of the remaining four cutblocks as a wildlife habitat area, due to the high number of black bear dens.
“That’s something we manage anyway,” Kempe said. “If we encounter a den that’s active, then we’re stopping. We’re not cutting right through.”
Kempe said BCTS’s logging plans for Dakota Bowl address concerns about slope stability and impacts on the Dakota Creek community watershed.
“We think at this stage we have a pretty good plan,” he said.
He also noted that BCTS, in its 10 years of existence, has not logged any old growth on Mount Elphinstone, although about 150 hectares had been identified for logging.
Of the 150 hectares, he said, about half has been dropped from future harvesting plans, largely due to concerns from the public and the Sunshine Coast Regional District.
“We are not just managing for timber values on Mount Elphinstone. We get it, that there are other issues,” he said.