Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Photo #1 - BC Ministry of Forests approved the logging of Klaskish Creek by LeMare Lake Logging between 2003-2006
Photo #2 - BC Ministry of Forests approved LeMare Lake Logging for Upper East Creek 2006-2008 The single trees along the bank which may not survive seasonal winds are considered a watershed buffer
Photo #3 - BC Ministry of Forests has approved logging of the Lower East Creek Valley by Western Forest Products Fall 2008

I just spent two weeks in one of the last ancient rainforests on Vancouver Island, west of Port Alice. After passing over the last mountain ridge, where a bulldozer had plowed a tunnel through 10 feet of snow, we descended into the East Creek valley, which has been pristine since the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

In the past few years LeMare Lake Logging has blasted over this mountain ridge and felled most of the old growth forest in the upper watershed of East Creek. Massive stumps from ancient Cypress (Yellow Cedar), Mountain Hemlock, Pacific Red Cedar, and Balsam Fir trees are all that remain in clear-cuts devoid of life. Thin strips of trees separate the roads from the main water tributaries.

We watched as more trees were being felled. Hundreds of truckloads of logs lie on the sides of the roads, waiting for the snow to melt so they can be hauled to the boom yards for shipping. The public has been led to believe that logging is kept away from the watershed of creeks, but that is not the case.

Western Forest Products will be moving in to replace LeMare Lake Logging in the next couple of months and they will destroy the lower valley. As far as the BC Ministry of Forests is concerned this is a done deal with no public process for approval.

East Creek is designated as a Special Management Zone by the Vancouver Island Land Management Plan and was considered a Natural Disturbance type #1 by the Forest Practices Code. The public was promised that the highest standards of logging regulations would be upheld in this ancient forest. However, the ‘Results Based Forestry Code’, introduced by Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberal government, leaves it up to the logging companies to report on their logging activities with no public approval process in place to monitor environmental or ecological degradation in the old growth forest.

A few weeks before my trip to East Creek, I went to Victoria to find out information about logging in the area from the BC Ministry of Forests. When I arrived at the Forest Service’s office tower I found no waiting room, no receptionist, and no index list of personnel just a security guard inside a plexi-glass cubicle who spoke to me through a metal speaker. He made several phone calls, but was unable to find someone to help me at the Forest Services office and finally instructed me to go to another building where I would find the Forest Practices Board.

The elevator opened to 4 locked doors with panels for security swipe cards and no nameplates. Several minutes later a man got out of the elevator and slid a card in the security panel. I asked him if this was the Forest Practices Board and mentioned the name the security guard had given me. The man told me to wait and locked the door behind him.

Eventually a woman opened the door and asked me to sit in a tiny lobby partitioned off from a maze of cubicles by wall dividers. Ten minutes later a man appeared with a rolled map of the entire province with zones indicating Tree Farm Licenses. This map is so vague that it is of no use for navigation. As I asked questions two more men appeared but none of them had very much information to provide. I was referred to an online website where I would have to register for a BC identity number in order to access government maps.

A decade ago when I was doing similar research about the Walbran Valley I went to the Forest Ministry office in Victoria. The lobby walls were covered with racks full of detailed logging road maps from across the province, available to the public free of charge. A registered forester explained detailed logging plans for the area provided at the expense of the logging company. He then photocopied several maps for me and e-mailed me a digital version of the entire proposed logging plan. A complete copy of the Forest Practices Code arrived at my home a few days later. The logging plans were subject to public review, input, and ministry approval prior to the company blasting roads and felling trees.

Today the old growth temperate rainforest of East Creek is being blasted for logging roads, trees are being cut down, yarders are dragging the logs across the watershed, and the ecosystem is being destroyed.

Based on what I witnessed, the public does not know that this is happening today, and the Ministry of Forests has approved it. Take action to protect Vancouver Island's Ancient Forests by joining the online petition at:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The most personal environment of all is the individual human body. In order to stay healthy many of us make specific choices about what we eat, drink, and take for medicine. Personally I have eaten a vegetarian diet for the past 15 years and I try to eat mostly organic produce. When I am faced with an ailment I search for the most natural health products available, although when push comes to shove I listen to my doctor and take what he prescribes.

On April 8, 2008 Bill C-51 was introduced to the House of Commons in Ottawa. It has just passed through its first reading, which means that it is not law yet! This bill will allow Health Canada unprecedented powers over the public in terms of what we can consume for our own health benefits. Through regulations, fee structures, and taxation this bill will put many smaller companies out of business allowing for large multinational pharmaceutical companies to take over completely regarding the sale of natural health products.

Basically, C-51 changes the definition of the word drug to include all natural health products. This means that Health Canada will be given the power to force natural health products off the market. All such products will be treated as drugs that must face the same fees, regulations, and taxation as pharmaceuticals.

To date no death has been attributed to a natural health product. However, the Federal government of Canada has been trying for decades to regulate this growing industry to ‘protect’ the public from the unknown. In 2004 the Federal government introduced natural health product regulations, which required anyone selling these products had to conform to a licensing requirement. To date 60% of license applications have failed and it is expected as much as 75% of all Natural Health products currently sold in Canada will become illegal if Bill C-51 is passed.

Under the new law Health Canada would be able to act outside the court system by entering private property without a warrant, seizing property at their discretion, and without reporting seizures to a Court. They will be able to levy fines up to $5 million and/or seek 2 years in jail. Primarily this will apply to natural health practitioners, producers of natural heath products, and retailers. Health Canada is currently hiring more enforcement officers and has been holding recruitment meetings at universities across the country.

In recent years the natural health product have become more readily available to the general public. North Americans consume by far the largest portion of natural health products in the world, although many of these products originated from Asian and European sources. These produces are in such demand that the profits have become substantial and have attracted the attention of Multinational pharmaceutical companies. These investment-driven giants are able to put up millions of dollars to meet regulatory demands as well as clerical devices such as Drug Identification Numbers. These scan-based serial numbers must appear on all packaging of drugs and costs tens of thousands of dollars per product. They will become mandatory by Federal law if Bill C-51 passes.

Many suppliers and producers of natural health produces are small businesses, which cannot afford the exorbitant fees needed to meet Federal licensing requirements. The science behind these products are sound and the produces are healthy, having proved themselves for years, but meeting the criteria for ‘drugs’ means that they will have to spend millions to prove that the public should continue to be able to buy them.

Dr. James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni, was a vocal supporter of a private members bill to protect supplier of vitamins during his first term in office as a member of the Alliance Party of Canada. As a Doctor of Chiropractic he seemed to understand that the body needs natural products to heal and thrive. Today Lunney has fallen silent and appears to be towing the party line with his vote in the coming decision regarding Bill C-51.

Let your local MP know about your concerns with Bill C-51 and please send letters, free of postage, to: Prime Minister Stephen Harper & Health Minister Tony Clement, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6

Friday, May 09, 2008


The Pacific tree frogs are singing in the wetlands, after a long winter of hibernation in the mud. Their eggs laid, in balls of transparent gel attached to twigs or grass stems, these tiny amphibians will climb into the trees and spend the summer eating insects.

Rough-skinned newts, commonly mistaken for Salamanders with orange bellies, can be seen crawling slowing from their nests under logs towards pools of still water. They will mate and then the females will lay individual eggs on the leaves of submerged vegetation. The hatched larvae take 4-5 months to reach maturity and rely on standing water for survival. The adult will stay in water for as long as possible and then move to the damp shade under logs and rocks.

The natural drainage of the Oceanside region, for that matter much of the east coast of Vancouver Island, is such that water was retained in wetlands. Although it rains a great deal during the fall, winter, and spring months the summers are usually dry. These annual extremes between flood and drought demand that water be held back for several months in order for life to prosper.

Wetlands by definition retain water throughout the year, several types are found in this area including: Marsh, Fens, and Woodland Swamps. Marsh areas have an abundance of grass and other vegetation along with open water, which combine with peat moss to act as a sponge that maintains water levels throughout the year. Hamilton Marsh is the only local wetland that qualifies for this distinction and it is owned by Island Timberlands who plan to log the forest around it and develop the land for real estate.

Fens, or peat-forming wetlands, can be found at a variety of locations from the lowlands up into the sub-alpine. The ridge overlooking Oceanside is currently covered with large patches of white snow. Those are clear-cuts: the result of logging in the past few years where there were once an abundance of fens.

By far the most abundant wetland type, in this area, are forest swamps. Historically, surface water has been retained in low spots under the shade of trees where thick sword ferns cover the moist soil, even during a prolonged draught. Many landowners drain these areas to allow for development. The run-off is then accelerated during the rainy season leaving very little or no moisture in the summer, particularly if the wetland in covered with backfill.

Currently many government agencies have limited jurisdiction over water but none of them have the clout to make private and corporate landowners comply in order for local drinking water to be protected.

The BC Ministry of Environment and Minister Responsible for Water Stewardship and Sustainable Communities has not enacted any legislation with regards to water. However they have named their water action plan: “Water for B.C. — Safe, Sustainable, and Valued by All” According to Minister Barry Penner’s website: “The plan is built around three broad goals: public health and safety, healthy watersheds and responsible use, and encourages British Columbians to adopt a sustainability ethic around caring for and protecting water resources and aquatic ecosystems.”

No mention of corporate responsibility, although big business uses by far the largest amounts of water in this province to flush mines, cool pulp mills, drill for oil, and cool metal smelting plants. Oceanside has 7 golf courses, with several currently under construction. Each 18-holes uses more than 1 million liters of water every summer’s night. Logging corporations, like Island Timberlands continue logging the ‘aquatic ecosystems’ such as the banks of Hamilton Creek as seen on Highway 4A between the town of Qualicum Beach and Coombs.

The BC Ministry of Health can intervene in the case of extreme situations. The Regional District of Nanaimo has very limited authority over water. The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans prescribes 30-meter setback from Rivers and Creeks but does not enforce these limitations on private lands.

Ironically, the BC Ministry of Transportation has the most control over the flow of local surface water. Ditches have been dug along every roadway to drain surface water. The goal of this Ministry is to discharge the water to the ocean as rapidly as possible. This in direct contradiction to nature, which seeks to retain the water for the dry season so that life can exist during the summer droughts.