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Watershed logging proposal before the public

Western Forest Products, which recently acquired Cascadia Forest Products, is putting forward a change to its current forest development plan (FDP) to include areas within the Chapman Creek watershed.

Western Forest Products, which recently acquired Cascadia Forest Products, is putting forward a change to its current forest development plan (FDP) to include areas within the Chapman Creek watershed.

The FDP is separate from its proposed forest stewardship plan (FSP), which the company has not yet submitted to the province. If the final FSP were approved, it would override the existing FDP, in line with the 2004 Forest and Range Practices Act which replaced the Forest Practices Code. The proposed FSP also includes logging within the community's Chapman drinking watershed, though FSPs do not delineate specific cutblocks.

In the meantime, the company is going forward under its FDP to log in the watershed, Western strategic planner Doug McCormick said at a public review of the amendment June 1 in Sechelt. "We're doing this to cover our bases in case [the FSP] doesn't get approved," McCormick said. The public consultation period for the amendment ends July 16. Then Western would submit the amendment to the Ministry of Forests district manager for approval. If it were approved, McCormick hopes the road building would begin in late August of this year and the logging would take place in the summer of 2007. The current FDP timber licence expires in 2008.

When the original FDP went through the approval process, the Chapman cutblocks were withdrawn because they became an issue holding up the process, he said. The company submitted the FDP without the Chapman cutblocks because of the urgency to start logging the other areas in the plan, he explained.

Before submitting the final plan, as required, Western would hire a geotechnologist to do a soil assessment in each of the four proposed cutblocks in the Chapman and Wilson Creek areas. The assessment would look at the potential for landslides and soil surface erosion, McCormick said. Last fall, the Sunshine Coast Regional District and Sechelt Indian Band signed a joint watershed management agreement to mutually protect the Chapman and Gray watersheds from industrial activity. McCormick said the company is aware of the motions the SCRD board put forward, in response to Cascadia's proposed FSP, opposing logging in the watershed. "At this point we're going forward with the proposal to the district manager to do some harvesting," McCormick said.Written comments on the proposed FDP amendment can be sent to McCormick at the Western Forest Products Stillwater Timberlands office at #201 - 7373 Duncan St., Powell River, B.C., V8A 1W6 or to dmccmormick@westernforest.com.

On May 1, Western announced it had completed its acquisition of Cascadia. Cascadia's forest tenures were transferred to Western. Western is now the largest woodland operator and lumber producer in coastal B.C.