People lined up for hours to have their say about logging in North Cowichan’s municipal reserve forests at a council meeting late last year. (File photo)

People lined up for hours to have their say about logging in North Cowichan’s municipal reserve forests at a council meeting late last year. (File photo)

North Cowichan to hire facilitator to help create new managment plan for municipal forests

Also agrees, in principle, to work with UBC group on management plan

North Cowichan is looking to hire an engagement facilitator to assist the municipality in creating a long-anticipated management plan for its 5,000-hectare municipal forest reserve.

The decision was made at a special council meeting on July 3 after a staff report was tabled which emphasized that community engagement and the planned forestry review process need to be coordinated and aligned.

The facilitator will be chosen after a request-for-proposals process.

Many in the community had been demanding for some time to have more say in management plans for the forest reserve.

RELATED STORY: “DEEP AND BROAD” PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT WANTED ON N. COWICHAN MUNICIPAL FORESTS

Icel Dobell, from the Where do we Stand group, said that because of the divisive nature of the forest debate in North Cowichan, the development of a new forest management plan should be handled by professional non-partisan engagement specialists.

“We are gratified to hear experts from the University of B.C. say repeatedly that public engagement must come first before any plans are made,” Dobell said.

In February, council endorsed just the completion of existing 2018 forestry contracts and harvesting of blow downs from December’s windstorm in the forest reserve in 2019 until experts are tapped for their input and the public has been thoroughly consulted on what people want for the future of the public properties.

At the meeting held on July 3, council also agreed in-principle to a proposal from the University of B.C., the Coastal Douglas Fir Partnership and 3GreenTreeConsulting to assist in developing the forest management plan.

RELATED STORY: UBC PROFESSOR SUGGESTS PARTNERSHIP WITH N. COWICHAN ON MUNICIPAL FOREST RESERVE FUTURE

The work that UBC and its partners propose to do includes things such as recommending harvesting volumes, areas, and rotations, as well as the the feasibility of developing a forest carbon project.

The group will be expected to assist in the development of both long-term and short-term forestry management plans.

“This work needs to be done for the forestry review, whether or not it is UBC that does it,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring.

“The next step will be for staff to develop a framework agreement with UBC to present back to council.”

Dobell said the Where do we Stand group is intrigued by UBC’S presentation on how the municipality can make as much money not logging through carbon sales as they would logging for timber.

“What could be better?” she asked.

Council also reviewed the last batch of blow-down salvage proposals in the municipal forest reserve from the windstorm in December at the meeting and decided to proceed with tendering contracts to complete blow-down harvesting for Mount Richards, Mount Sicker, and Mount Prevost.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN ENDORSES HARVESTING OF BLOW-DOWN TREES IN RESERVE

But council decided not to proceed with blow-down harvesting on Osborne Bay Road and Babine Road.

For these latter two areas, council wanted to explore further whether harvesting in these sites is necessary at this time, given their location away from designated trails and the more limited extent of the blow down.

Blow-down salvage is already underway on Maple Mountain, Mt Tzouhalem, and Stoney Hill.

Dobell said that like all aspects of the forest debate, people are hearing alternative views that are not being being presented at the table about the best way to deal with blow-down trees.

“Only the industrial side is being put forward to council, with the work on Stoney Hill as example,” she said.

“We’re not happy with the patch clear-cutting method being used. Personally, I’m devastated by the number of live trees that have been logged. We feel all salvaging should be paused for the summer fire season to allow for public consultation.”

A press release from North Cowichan said the decisions made at the meeting were the culmination of months of discussion between council, staff, the forest advisory committee, the public, and outside experts regarding a forestry operational review and community engagement.

“While it has taken some time to get to this point, it has allowed us to have many conversations and hear from many members of the community on this issue before initiating action,” Siebring said in the release.

“It is council’s hope that we have a more robust process as a result.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at Maple Bay Elementary between April 12 and 15. (Google Maps screenshot)
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Maple Bay Elementary

Exposures may have occurred between April 12 and 15

”It was an angry welcome for Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Jan Pullinger when she arrived in Lake Cowichan Monday to open her constituency office. She was greeted with some of her long time supporters calling her a ‘liar’. Left to right, Jan Pullinger, Director of Area I, Lois Gage, school trustee Rolli Gunderson, school trustee Pat Weaver, Save our School Committee Chairperson, Tara Daly.” (Lake News/April 17,1996)
Flashback: Garbage, geography and tragedy

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read