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Hike raises awareness of bluffs

Regional district officials send letter to Island Timberlands
Hike raises awareness of bluffs

Friends of Stillwater Bluffs hosted a group of 50 people and 10 dogs on a hike around Stillwater Bluffs on Sunday April 15. It was part of an awareness-raising campaign that this area needs to be protected before Island Timberlands follows through on its plans to log it.

District Lot 3040, known locally as the Stillwater Bluffs, was noted as a priority for protection through the Powell River Regional District’s parks and greenspace plan. However, Island Timberlands timber-cruised the area this winter and stated recently that it plans to begin road building in the next month or so.

A Vancouver Island-based environmental organization, the Ancient Forest Alliance, has included the Stillwater Bluffs campaign in its province-wide push to get the provincial government to create a fund for regional districts to access funds for parks creation that would protect old growth forests and other areas of ecological and social value.

Three staff members of the alliance attended Sunday’s hike and took photographs. Ken Wu, executive director, said, “Wow, I was so impressed with the dramatic beauty of Stillwater Bluffs, with the bluffs themselves and with the forest and its enormous veteran old-growth trees. You could not find a better park candidate in the area. Island Timberlands needs to back off instead of escalating a conflict, while the regional district and province need to step in to help buy this coastal gem for protection.”

Friends of Stillwater Bluffs have collected over a thousand signatures to protect the area and are working hard to raise awareness about its unique value to the community.

“A representative of Island Timberlands told me they want to log it in a way that would keep anyone from logging there again,” said Nola Poirier, a member of the group. “Instead, we are working to protect it, in a way that will keep anyone from logging there again.”

Meanwhile, David Moore, a member of the group’s organizing committee, made a presentation at the April 10 Powell River Regional District committee-of-the-whole. He told directors he and another member of the group were invited to have a walk around the site with Wayne French, an Island Timberland’s forester, in the last week of March. “He made it very clear to us that they had received no indication from the board here of any interest in the property, so they were going full steam ahead in their logging plans,” Moore said.

Moore explained that the company is moving into an active stage of harvesting planning, which involves mapping, staking, flagging and spray-painting of tree trunks. “This set off the alarm bells that something has to happen soon, or we’re going to see a real incursion on the property, let alone a large investment from their company in terms of manpower, hired work and mapping, if in fact we are going to make a proposal to them for park acquisition,” Moore said. “So, we’re back, simply asking for some direct communication between the board and the company to give them an indication that there is something going on here and would they simply put their train into park mode for just another month or two while we do get our parks process in full swing.”

The regional district has appointed a parks and greenspace plan implementation committee, which is meeting for the first time tonight, April 18. After discussing the issue, the committee passed a motion to send a letter to the president of Island Timberlands requesting a delay on logging activities on the Stillwater Bluffs property until such time as the regional district can discuss a possible acquisition.