Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) officials were scrambling for information this week after learning that extensive logging was taking place on private land in the lower portion of the Chapman Creek community watershed.
Hans Penner of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) said he discovered the logging activity on the west side of the creek Monday, calling it “shocking news.”
After informing the SCRD, Penner and a small group of activists returned the next two mornings and stopped the logging by setting up a blockade.
“This was another no-logging day, so we’re happy with that,” Penner said Wednesday, after RCMP had paid a visit to the site and talked to the protesters.
Though Penner vowed to return Thursday, he said he hoped the issue could be resolved by an emergency meeting between Sechelt First Nation and the SCRD.
The purpose of the meeting, he said, would be “to discuss what’s happening now and also to resolve the issue in the long term of private property in the community watershed.”
SCRD chair Garry Nohr said Wed-nes-day he had been unable to contact Sechelt Nation officials about the issue, but he did drive to the logging site and met with some of the protesters.
“They felt there’s an injunction coming, and they’re probably right,” Nohr said.
Based on information obtained by staff, Nohr said it appeared the company, Surespan, was operating under the Private Managed Forest Land (PMFL) program and “they are doing what private forest land people are allowed to do.”
The SCRD was not informed of the activities, he said, because it does not have a protocol agreement with Surespan, as it does with BC Timber Sales and other operators.
While the SCRD had not confirmed that Surespan was operating under the PMFL rules and regulations, “they told us they are and they have a professional forester who signs off on the papers, so I assume they are,” Nohr said.
SCRD staff was preparing a report to present to the board at the Oct. 9 community services committee meeting as an emergency item.
While staff were waiting on direction from the board, chief administrative officer John France said the report will recommend the SCRD monitor for turbidity above and below the logged area and also develop a protocol agreement with Surespan.
A board policy states the SCRD does not support logging in the community watershed.
Penner said it appeared most of the tree falling had been completed on the west side of the creek, but a major concern was that the east side — accessed off Field Road — would be next.
“We’d like to see them stop doing any more logging and do as much rehabilitation as possible,” he said. “The other half of it is to prevent additional logging on the east side. The whole area they’re logging is in the community watershed.”
The company could not reached for comment.