Viewpoint: Forestry needs long-term approach

Something strange happened on the morning of Monday, October 3. A last-minute meeting about planned logging on Roberts Road by Island Timberlands (IT) was taken over by a representative from Western Forest Products (WFP).

WFP operations planner Darwyn Koch showed up, assuming the meeting was about a small heli-logging block deep in the backcountry that he had just found out had a trail through it.

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The mix-up happened because two small but contentious parcels of forest came to the attention of local residents at nearly the same time and discussions erupted quickly on social media and became confused.

The Roberts Road block in Stillwater borders one of the most beautiful country roads in our area. The road is closed off to the sky by the forest canopy above, so for a brief moment you become totally immersed in the forest. Sadly, IT plans to log its part of this forest any day.

The other parcel, EL-681, located 60 kilometres north and at 700 metres of elevation, is a section of old-growth timber high up on a slope, which, at five hectares, is tiny by backcountry logging standards. There is a trail through this forest that leads to one of the best rock climbs in Powell River: On the Virg.

Fortunately, WFP is not planning on logging this block in the near future. Local rock climber Christie Dionne, who was at the meeting, reported that WFP said they want to work with the community and come to a solution about the trail together.

My guess is that the trail will remain with a buffer of trees alongside it; a compromise of sorts, but one that would still mean the loss of another piece of our dwindling old growth.

These are just two examples of all of the forest being cut in this region every month. The mix-up of these two meetings was a good reminder that the logging we see happening in our neighbourhoods, in areas such as Millennium Park, Valentine Mountain and Roberts Road, are only a small reflection of what is happening in the backcountry.

This town was founded on forestry and it will likely remain a big part of our economy. But without a long-term plan that does not rely on residents addressing problems in a piecemeal approach, essential forest values, both environmental and personal, will be lost to a liquidated landscape.

Jason Addy is a local mountaineer, rock climber and photographer.

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