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Joe Smith Creek cutblock auction to proceed

BC Timber Sales (BCTS) has confirmed Joe Smith Creek cutblock (TA0521) is to go to auction by April.
Joe Smith Creek area forest was one area addressed in BCTS's Mt. Elphinstone Watershed Assessment report

BC Timber Sales (BCTS) has confirmed Joe Smith Creek cutblock (TA0521) is to go to auction by April. That decision was reaffirmed to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) in a Feb. 22 letter from BCTS’s Pierre Aubin, a practices forester for the Chinook region, which encompasses the Coast.  

“TA0521 will be harvested using a partial cut harvest method. The harvest openings will have an average of 40 trees left standing in each hectare in addition to significant retention patches. Due to the unique partial cut harvest system, TA0521 will be added to the Roberts Creek High Retention Research Project led by Ministry of Forests Research Branch and supported by BCTS,” Aubin wrote.

That correspondence, along with a letter from the Ministry of Forests' Sunshine Coast Natural Resource Region district manager, delivered responses to a call issued in January by the SCRD directors for a halt to the auction and for TA0521 to be protected as an old-growth recruitment area.  Aubin’s letter noted assigning cutblock protections would require a review under the province’s “Old Growth Strategic Review process."

Local concerns expressed

The regional board and other locals wanted to see further review of the impacts of logging of TA0521 and others along the southern slopes of Mount Elphinstone. A variety of community concerns were voiced after the ministry released the first phases of its Mount Elphinstone Watershed Assessment, which identified risks to local infrastructure, including Highway 101, posed by increased stormwater runoff created by harvesting the upslope forest cutblocks.

Both letters about the cutblock are part of the SCRD’s March 14 board meeting agenda. That was made public on the regional district’s website on March 9.  No staff report or statements from any area director on the matter were included with the meeting documentation.

A petition also requesting BCTS delay actions furthering forest harvesting in “cutblock TA0521, and subsequently cut blocks TA0048 and TA0519 directly above the community of Roberts Creek” showed 34,616 signed in support as of March 11.

“We are asking the BC Government to stop BCTS from logging all these areas and to preserve them as future old growth sites, to save our community watersheds and watershed protection forest from irreversible damage," the online petition reads.  

In a March 10 email shared with Coast Reporter, Ross Muirhead of Elphinstone Logging Focus expressed the opinion that “If BCTS carries ahead with logging TA0521 they will be contradicting the government's own statement of accepting all of the recommendations made by the OG [Old Growth] Review Panel.”  In his view the ministry’s Technical Advisory Panel, a subset of the OG review, requires the “recruitment layer” for forest areas to have a minimum of 10 percent old-growth remaining and that BCTS’s plans for TA0521 fall short on that.