Wednesday, May 28, 2008
OLD GROWTH LOGGING INCREASES WITH FORESTRY DOWNTURN
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: www.wcwcvictoria.org/petition_vi