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Nest protection best tool in fight

Forestry company agrees to move harvest
Chris Bolster

It is not a stop work order, but it will mean that one part of the forest slated for logging will not fall.

Island Timberlands has agreed voluntarily to not harvest trees in an area of Lot 450 where a nest protected by the Wildlife Act was found during the weekend.

Jenny Garden, a local organizer of the Save Lot 450 campaign, spoke to the Peak Monday, May 11, about the recent developments in Powell River’s war for the woods.

“They’re not stopping,” said Garden. “They’re just moving,”

She and biologist Andrew Bryant met with members of the RCMP Monday morning to inform them about the finding of six nests in the area and one close to active logging. The BC Conservation Officer Service contacted the forestry company about the find and it agreed to not cut around the nest.

This development does not stop the company from continuing on with its harvesting plans in other areas of its private or public land. However, it does give conservationists a tool to protect stands of trees that are critical to birds and potentially slow the company down, Garden said. And now an open line of communication between Bryant, conservation officers and Island Timberlands has been established.

Garden added that when nests are found the forestry company will be informed about them, but it will be up to Island Timberlands to decide whether it wants to respect the nest location. “There aren’t going to be police or conservation officers between a machine and a nest,” she said.

Garden is encouraging more people to learn about how to identify nests and help out because “this is the best tool we have right now.”

A public workshop on nest identification with ornithologist Guy Monty will take place at noon on Tuesday, May 12, at Timberlane track for anyone interested in helping out in the field.

Group aims to block logging

Pebble in the Pond releases bird nest survey for Lot 450

An environmental group based in Powell River intends to halt logging after releasing its bird nest assessment on Lot 450.

Pebble in the Pond Environmental Society released the report Monday, May 4.

“What it proves conclusively is that there are very high wildlife values there that are threatened by this logging activity and more caution is needed,” said Judy Tyabji Wilson, Pebble in the Pond president.

Tyabji Wilson added that on the basis of the report Pebble in the Pond’s board of directors has decided to file an injunction against Island Timberlands. “We will be taking court action against them so that we can at least stop the logging until proper studies are done,” she said. “Time is of the essence.”

Island Timberlands began harvesting trees on the company’s private managed forest land in Lot 450 on April 22.

The group is looking to hire a lawyer and file the injunction this week in Powell River court.

Because of the size of Lot 450 many local lawyers are only “one degree of separation” away from working with clients on economic development initiatives that may be in some way related. “The complication is that it looks like all the local lawyers are conflicted,” Tyabji Wilson said,  adding that they will be looking out of town from representation.

Guy Monty, a field ornithologist and wildlife technician specializing in birds, from Vancouver Island, prepared the brief study after spending Thursday, April 30, in Lot 450.

“The site visit in Lot 450 was woefully inadequate in covering Lot 450 in terms of locating even a fraction of the currently active nests,” Monty wrote in the report.

Despite the limited time, Monty did locate four active nests in addition to evidence confirming nesting of four other species. He also noted two active nests on the area’s boundaries.

“A large number of birds which enjoy both provincial and federal protections during nesting, including some which are designated as conservation concerns, nest within Lot 450,” Monty added.

The report makes a number of recommendations including that no trees be harvested in the area between March 15 to August 15, nesting season for both local and migratory birds. If harvesting does occur during that period, proper nest searches should be conducted by trained, experienced wildlife technicians. And then if nests are found that site and species-specific buffers be established to protect the bird’s nests and those buffers be respected as zones off limits to workers.

Monty notes that in the province most songbirds receive buffers of between 20 to 50 metres in size while raptors, owls, herons and birds such as common nighthawks require buffers of between 50 to 1,000 metres.

Also recommended is that a general site assessment of Lot 450 be conducted by qualified professionals before any industrial activities occur there.

The full report is available as a PDF here. Tyabji Wilson was interviewed on CTV and a clip to that interview is available here.

Rally set to save green space 

Powell River residents concerned about the logging in Lot 450 have banded together to organize a march and rally to raise awareness about tree harvesting inside the city limits.

According to the group’s website the Save Lot 450 campaign is not against logging or the logging contractors or employees doing the work. Nor is it against the City of Powell River or PRSC Limited Partnership, the group that owns much of the land slated for harvest. What the group wants is to protect “vital green space and ecosystems in the centre the city.”

It is concerned that Lot 450, which runs between Townsite and Cranberry to Westview, excluding Millennium Park, will be clear-cut if nothing is done to stop Island Timberlands, the company with the timber rights.

A protest walk starting from Brooks Secondary School was organized by the group at noon on Tuesday, May 5.

The group, as well as members from Pebble in the Pond Environmental Society, is encouraging the public to attend the city council meeting at 7 pm on Thursday, May 7, when the bird nest assessment will be presented to mayor and councillors.

In addition, the group is also organizing a public rally at noon on Saturday, May 9, at Willingdon Beach gravel lot (Marine Avenue and Alberni Street). This will be a large event with music, information, workshops, sign making and a protest walk.

Readers can visit the group’s website for more information.

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