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Tree harvesting to proceed as recommended

Watershed protection society requests expansion of buffers

Harvesting plans for city-owned forestland near Inland Lake will go ahead as recommended by a retired forester.

During the Thursday, February 19, City of Powell River Council meeting, councillors reviewed the harvest plan for the planned logging project on city property at Inland Lake Road, Mile One. The matter had been referred from the city’s committee of the whole meeting, early February, where a request had been received to expand the recommended buffer zones around a stream. The Inland 100 block is one of the parcels of city-owned land being managed by Powell River Community Forest.

Tor Birtig, director of infrastructure, said from the February 5 committee of the whole meeting, he had a harvest plan created by the forester from Powell River Community Forest. He wrote council a memo that outlines what has transpired to date and some of the implications regarding the buffer around the tributary to Miller Creek that flows into Cranberry Lake.

Birtig reminded council that Jerry Eskes, president of Cranberry Lake Watershed Preservation Society had requested, at committee of the whole, that the city observe a 30-metre buffer around the creek.

A registered professional biologist conducted a riparian area regulations assessment on the stream section in question and the recommendation was for a 10-metre wide streamside protection and enhancement area (SPEA) buffer around the tributary to Miller Creek for the stream.

Birtig said the harvest plan that was drawn up by the community forest’s forester, however, recommended a buffer that varies from 10 metres on one side of the stream to 18 metres on the other. During the February 5 meeting, there was some discussion among councillors about a 20-metre buffer on either side of the stream as a compromise.

“If we were to increase the buffers to 20 metres it would impact revenue by $15,000,” Birtig said. “The ultimate impact to Cranberry Lake, in our estimation, is negligible in maintaining the buffers outlined by our forester.”

Birtig said that while the biologist had recommended a 10-metre buffer on either side, the forester decided to add an additional eight-metre buffer on one side of the stream for caution.

“We are adding an enhanced buffer from even what our biologist has stated,” he said.

Mayor Dave Formosa said there was suggestion that the buffers be expanded to 20 metres on each side of the stream after the presentation from the watershed protection group. “We came up with a political balance,” Formosa said. “The good folks of Cranberry formed the society to try and protect the lake today and into the future. They believe that Miller Creek needs to be protected as much as possible to help the integrity of that lake.

“I visited the site with Councillor [Russell] Brewer, who is a professional forester, and our [community forest] forester, and we saw the creek. It dries up during part of the year and runs for part of the year. I don’t know if the Cranberry delegation is privy to the information that we have from our professionals.”

Formosa said it did not appear that the expansion of buffers would help out the lake, given that three professionals are saying that the wider buffers would really not do anything but take some money away from the city from reducing harvesting.

Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said the feeling she had from Eskes’ delegation was that he didn’t have access to the information from the professionals and that his group was trying to err on the side of caution in asking for an increased buffer.

“Being a professional forester myself I’m comfortable with the plan as it is presented here,” Brewer said. “I think it protects the creek. That’s my professional interpretation. The plan has also been approved by the ministry of environment and the regional district.”

Council agreed that the community forest could continue with the harvesting plan as submitted by the forester and council will send a letter to the watershed preservation society to that effect.

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