These Douglas fir logs were recently found poached on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)

These Douglas fir logs were recently found poached on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)

Robert Barron Column: Poachers in forest reserve should be treated harshly

‘Poachers need to be rounded up and prosecuted as soon as possible’

Criminals who are treating North Cowichan’s 5,000-hectare municipal forest reserve like their own personal piggy bank need to be rounded up and prosecuted as soon as possible.

The municipality and the local RCMP had recently been alerted to the fact that people have been in parts of the reserve illegally cutting down large and marketable red cedar and Douglas fir trees.

Although against the law, I suspect that it may be common practice for some people to take blown-down trees and other wood waste from the MFR for firewood and that’s to be expected, but what is happening now in the reserve is on a far greater scale and is an insult to all those in the community who have been trying so hard in recent years for North Cowichan to develop a more environmentally friendly way to manage it.

The municipality is currently reviewing its forestry practices in the reserve, albeit way to slow for many, but those who are poaching the best trees for personal gain, with no care for the damage being done in the publicly owned area, are jeopardizing the whole review process and are threatening the MFR’s delicate ecology.

Why this is happening now isn’t hard too hard to understand.

The price of lumber, along with steel and other building materials, is skyrocketing as the markets continue to reel from the long-term impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic first hit last year, lumber mills, along with most other non-essential businesses, were forced to close and that cut deeply into supplies of wood used for building, and those supplies are still far from reaching pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time, and also the result of the pandemic, a lot of those people stuck at home decided to take on home-renovation projects, including building patio decks and fences, so demand for lumber began to rise significantly as wood supplies dwindled.

That’s a recipe for super-inflated prices and, as a result, the costs of two-by-fours and other basic lumber used in building projects has doubled, and even tripled in some cases.

That’s why those jokers are suddenly showing up in the MFR and cutting down large trees.

If those trees were cut in eight-feet lengths and milled into boards, they would be worth a lot of money and worth the risk to those who have little regard for the cares and concerns of their fellow citizens.

I encourage people who regularly visit the reserve for recreational purposes to keep their eyes and ears open for any suspicious activities, and report them to the municipality or the police as soon as possible.

The sound of a chainsaw would be a good indication that there’s illegal activities going on, unless by municipal workers who are clearing paths of fallen trees or some other project, as there is no authorized cutting currently allowed anywhere in the MFR.

Fortunately, we already have some dedicated people here in the Valley who take it upon themselves to monitor the activities in the forest reserve, including Larry Pynn who founded sixmountains.ca, a website dedicated to providing information about logging in the MFR,

Pynn was the one who recently discovered a number of illegal logging sites within the reserve at Stoney Hill, Mount Prevost and other areas and gave officials in North Cowichan the heads up that there were nefarious activities underway on municipal lands.

He should be commended for his commitment to these public properties.

We are blessed to have such a beautiful forest reserve in North Cowichan, which is used extensively for recreational purposes such as biking and hiking, and it’s not fair that a bunch of gangsters have decided to use it, and deface it, for their own selfish purposes and at everyone’s else’s expense.

The sooner those people are in handcuffs, the better.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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