BC Timber Sales (BCTS) has delayed tendering a cutblock package for Mount Elphinstone “to provide additional opportunity for dialogue between BCTS and Sechelt First Nation,” a spokeswoman for the province said this week.
The delayed timber sale includes a second-growth cutblock in the Gough Creek drainage basin near Clack Creek on Elphinstone’s lower slopes and an unconnected block of old growth forest in Dakota Bowl, both designated as A87126.
Originally scheduled to be advertized in the fall, the tender has now been deferred until “sometime after April or May,” said Vivian Thomas, communications director for the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations (FLRNO).
Thomas said the sale of another cutblock designated as A87125 has been deferred until spring of next year.
She did not provide the sizes of any of the proposed blocks, but said the block near Clack Creek, last reported at 28 hectares, had been downsized. The Dakota Bowl block was last reported at 50 hectares.
The move comes after the province said in late November that BCTS would continue with its harvesting plans for Mount Elphinstone, despite the Sechelt Nation’s announcement it was moving to protect the lower slopes within its territory from industrial development.
In a recent interview with Coast Reporter, Chief Calvin Craigan said the province and band were working together to find “other systems” to protect the disputed area.
Environmental group Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) is opposing both planned BCTS sales, calling for the entire Dakota Bowl watershed to be protected and contending the block near Clack Creek contains the largest concentration of endangered Rubus nivalis (snow bramble) ever recorded in the province.
In a letter to FLNRO Minister Steve Thomson following the Sechelt Nation announcement, ELF’s Ross Muirhead conceded the lower-elevation block was indeed scaled back, but only after ELF raised concerns about the extreme blowdown documented in adjacent BCTS blocks on the same slopes.
“They did acknowledge and realize that these forests, facing the Salish Sea, are subject to intense storm events and attempted to make the edges of the proposed logging more wind firm; however, it’s still clearcut logging that destroys biodiversity,” Muirhead wrote.
Contacted last week, Muirhead said ELF also opposes the sale of A87125, calling it “a rare low-elevation older forest” and “a go-to mushroom picking area for locals and First Nation pickers.”
ELF has dubbed the proposed block the “Mach Forest” due to its proximity to the Mach Chicken Trail, a popular mountain bike trail in the lower slopes above Roberts Creek.