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Updated: Joe Smith Creek cutblock auction listed – ELF reinstates blockade

The listing posted on the BC Bid website on May 13, states bids for rights to cut timber on the estimated 13 hectare site, on the slopes of Mt. Elphinstone, in the Roberts Creek area are to close June 4.
ELF's Hans Penner surveys the trees in the proposed Joe Smith Creek cutblock

Updated May 22 

BC Timber Sales has listed TA0521 (aka the Joe Smith Creek cutblock) for harvesting bids. 

The listing posted on the BC Bid website on May 13, states bids for rights to cut timber on the estimated 13-hectare site on the slopes of Mount Elphinstone, in the Roberts Creek area, are to close June 4.

The website states tenders will only be accepted from those registered with BC Timber Sales as enterprise in Category Category 1 - Market or Category 2 or 4 value-added bidders. The total estimated volume of Western red cedar, Douglas fir and hemlock available is 13,815 cubic metres. The permitted term for the successful bidder to undertake the work is listed at 30 months. 

In a May 21 email to Coast Reporter a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests stated, "If a successful bid occurs with TA0521, public notice would be provided if there are safety or cultural concerns prior to forest harvest. Examples would be if a trail is shut down for safety concerns then the licensee will post signs, or a Nation has requested notifications be posted so they can gather non-timber forest products prior to forest harvest." 

He also explained that the province commissioned a hydrological study of the Mount Elphinstone area, to ensure the forest continues to be managed sustainably and any potential stream flow or water quality impacts are mitigated.

"BC Timber Sales is now moving forward with issuing a Timber Sales Licence and will ensure that all recommendations from the hydrological study are implemented. This decision follows extensive engagement with the public and First Nations," he wrote.

Road blockade re-activated

Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) spokesperson  Hans Penner notified Coast Reporter that the group had reinstated its blockade of the access road to the site in protest of the pending listing of harvesting rights to the site on May 21. While personnel are not on site 24 hours per day, Penner said, "We plan to go back every working day until the tender period is over or BCTS withdraws that action."

ELF had originally set up the protest aimed at deterring harvesting actions on the cutblock in early April as BCTS's website had listed the auction was to proceed by March 31. ELF maintained a presence there for two weeks and hosted a public information session on the cutblock. Following that activity, BCTS advised that further review of factors relating to the cutblock was being carried out. 

Penner called the opening of the opportunity to bid on harvest rights to TA0521 as an "outrageous action" on the part of the province.

"There's a big lack of honest consultation with the public," he said. He said that BCTS only recently posted details about "red and blue listed ecological communities" in the cutblock. In BC, red and blue lists categorize species and ecological communities based on their conservation status. Red-listed ones are assessed as extirpated, endangered, or threatened and blue listings are cited as species or communities assessed as of special concern.

Community concerns

Numerous community members have expressed concerns to BCTS and the province related to the need to maintain forested areas on the slopes to protect community infrastructure downstream, local groundwater supplies and the biodiversity of local forested areas.

Early in 2024, the Sunshine Coast Regional District wrote to BCTS and the province expressing community concerns related to the proposed harvesting  On March 21, the board accepted BCTS's decision to keep the cutblock on its 2024 auction listing, noting that BCTS’ approach to local concerns voiced about TA0521 was an improvement over its past practice. That followed the Board's receipt of a letter from BCTS confirming its commitment to uphold best management and stewardship practices by adopting partial cutting methods and conducting terrain, stream, visual, and hydrological assessments led by qualified professionals.