Truck loggers glad to see cutblock auction go ahead

Mount Elphinstone

A BC Timber Sales (BCTS) cutblock auction that drew opposition from conservation groups and the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) closed as scheduled June 3.

There’s no word yet on which company has been awarded the logging rights for A87125, on the slopes of Mount Elphinstone, or when harvesting could begin.

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But a group representing the province’s independent timber harvesters is happy the auction went ahead, and says it’s a better move for the future of the forest.

David Elstone, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association (TLA), said having access to BCTS cutblocks is vital for their members, and the local economy.

“Resource development generates economic activity that gets fed back into the provincial economy, and our local economy,” he said. “We’re not Whistler, where you have a massive tourism industry that survives year around. I think you need to have resource development of this nature as part of your diversity of your community to allow people to live, and work and play in your community.”

Elstone, a resident of Roberts Creek, added that he believes allowing logging in the area is a logical extension of having a thriving mixed-use forest, especially with preservation measures like Old Growth Management Areas already in place.

Elphinstone Logging Focus, the SCRD board, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Committee all called for the auction to be cancelled because they’re hoping to see the existing 140-hectare (346-acre) Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park expanded.

Elstone notes it wouldn’t just be logging that could be prohibited in the area of A87125 if it’s folded into a bigger park.

“It’s a very heavily used area by recreationalists, by other resource users like mushroom pickers, [tree] bough collectors, etc. It’s used for a whole bunch of reasons,” he explained. “A park, especially one of this nature that is being espoused for preservation of ecosystems, would result in the exclusion of many of these activities.”

A Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations factsheet released just ahead of the auction noted the province has no plans to expand the existing park, and that logging in A87125 will have to follow extra restrictions that include: buffering around a popular mountain biking trail, larger setbacks around streams, and retaining veteran Douglas firs.

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