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ELF pushes for protection from downstream impacts of logging in Trout Lake area

More attention to slope stability and runoff requested
Fallen trees on a mossy slope
Slope of the terrain on cutblock HM70.

Geotechnical analysis to ensure protection of downstream areas before more logging happens in the Trout Lake area may come, one way or another. It may result from tenure holder Sunshine Coast Community Forest’s (SCCF) planning for cutting permits or via a legal challenge from Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF).

ELF has raised concerns about slope stability as well as stormwater runoff and what those mean for the future of areas below cutblock HM70, located near Trout Lake. Its concerns intensified in mid-November 2021 when flooding occurred on Highway 101 and Redrooffs Road during an atmospheric river weather event.  Those events also followed logging and road building on neighbouring cutblock HM50 by an SCCF contractor.

SCCF has harvesting of HM70 planned for 2022. Operations manager Warren Hansen told Coast Reporter via email that SCCF has postponed HM70 cutting permit applications until later this year. “SCCF is still in plan development and are waiting for further information from the shíshálh Nation as well as reports from our hydrology and terrain specialists, specifically dealing with the Nov. 15 atmospheric river event and any potential terrain concerns within HM70,” Hansen wrote.

“Once we have this information, we will share the report and findings on our website in its entirety.  All recommendations and any mitigating strategies within our operations to address water management at Kenyon Creek will be strongly considered. HM70 has no streams within the block, but we will be installing frequent culverts to ensure that our roads are resilient to future atmospheric river events. This is consistent with my commitment to following Shelley Higman’s recommendations from the AN12 report.

Higman, a terrain specialist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) authored a report dated Jan. 17, that stated logging activities by SCCF “may have contributed” to a landslide and washout that occurred on the Sechelt-Dakota forest service road. That report made recommendations related to “more stringent terrain stability assessments” for logging and road building on slopes in areas defined as having a “low likelihood” of landslides following harvesting activities.

On Jan. 21, SCCF issued a statement in response to that report in which Hansen said, “We accept the conclusions and recommendations and will be acting on the recommendations made.”

FLNRORD Sunshine Coast Resource District manager Derek Lefler has agreed to consider issues raised by ELF about HM70 and whether those warrant assigning a government geoscientist to conduct a site visit and follow-up report before cutting permits are issued. He confirmed this via email to ELF on Feb.22.

If that doesn’t happen, ELF Forest Campaigner Ross Muirhead says his organization will explore applying for a West Coast Environmental grant to fund a legal challenge of the geotechnical weaknesses which he said are “inherent in the Statlu Engineering HM70 assessment.”

In addition, ELF has requested that the Sunshine Coast Community Forest “take a second sober look at the possible implications of logging HM70 on surface runoff. A rule of thumb is that clearcut logging and road building can increase surface runoff by as much as four fold.”