Some residents in the Okeover Inlet region oppose logging plans for a steep area adjacent to Crowther Road.
Island Timberlands harvested roughly 60 hectares above the south end of Malaspina Road and above Crowther between November 2010 to June 2012. The company left a buffer between the clearcut and Crowther, but now is making plans to log timber there.
Residents are concerned about the potential for increased run-off and destabilization of the steep slope. They are also concerned about safety along Crowther and damage to the road, the impact the logging will have on wells that supply drinking water, potential wind damage to neighbouring trees and properties, impact to wildlife and damage to views and tourism.
Sarah Dickenson is one of the concerned residents. “I’m not anti-logging,” she said. “I understand logging is an important part of BC’s economy. I just wish they would do it in a more responsible way, especially in small communities that depend on tourism.”
Dickenson organized a community meeting in April and about 40 people attended it. “As a community, we decided that we’re opposed to them coming and taking the trees out,” she said. “We feel the removal of that forest in particular is very unsafe because they have put in a giant cutblock already.”
Okeover Ratepayers’ Association is also opposed to the proposed logging. The organization has written to provincial and local government officials asking that they ”take all steps at your disposal to ensure that the issues raised by the residents are investigated and addressed before any further logging takes place in the affected area.”
Wayne French, Island Timberlands’ operations planner, said right now the company is in the preliminary planning stages. “We don’t know how big the cutblock is going to be yet,” he said. “I walked some of the ground with the production supervisor and we haven’t really decided how much we’re going to take at all right now.”
As well, the company doesn’t know when the logging will occur. “We were maybe looking at later this year, but it’s totally dependent what comes out of the planning process,” he said.
That process will address residents’ concerns, including the impact to wildlife and water, French said. “We’ve got all the wells identified and one of the next things to do is to look at those and how to treat them further on in the planning process,” he said.
French said the cutblock doesn’t go onto the steep portions of the land. “We’re not going to be on the rock bluffs above Crowther,” he said. “Everything we’re going to be doing is machine-based. We’re not going to do any cable yarding up there.”
The company is targeting small, flatter benches on the high side of Crowther that are accessible by machine, he added. “Any of the areas that are really steep down onto Crowther, we’re not going to operate on,” he said.
Viewscapes will be taken into consideration during the planning process as well, French said. “We look at our visuals as well, but the block is going to be so small, is what we’re anticipating,” he said. “We’re not going very far up the hill above Crowther Road.”
As for Crowther, it’s built to provincial road standard, French said, and nothing will happen to it. “All of our equipment and logging trucks meet highway load rating standards,” he said. “We operate in quite a few urban interface areas and truck drivers are always told about watching out for speed, traffic, pedestrians and driving accordingly.”
There are benefits to the Okeover community, French also said. “We always talk to our neighbours and we’ve dealt with the ratepayers for the previous cutblocks,” he said. “The ALS Society has been given permission to cut firewood off of our property as a fundraiser.”