Roughly four dozen residents attended a meeting of the Save Our Holmes Society Sunday at Yount School on Sunday afternoon. The goal: to raise awareness and mobilize to let Mosaic Forest Management know the community wants them not to disturb the 28 watersheds, the fish and wildlife habitats and the steep slopes of Mounts Holmes and Good.
Save Our Holmes Society president Karen Deck was pleased with the turnout.
“We reached a completely different crowd (40-50) than Mosaic did with their invitation to a Zoom meeting. Theirs was delivered via the Youbou Community Association, which we shared after we read it there,” she said. “The trouble is, neither the YCA nor Save Our Holmes reaches the entire community. It makes me wonder how sincere Mosaic was in their desire to reach the entire community,” Deck said in an email to the Gazette.
Four years ago the logging companies announced their intention to log areas along the north side of Cowichan Lake near Youbou,” Deck related.
“At the open house they hosted, residents packed Youbou Hall and expressed grave concerns about the consequences of logging the steep mountains (Mounts Holmes and Good) above the community. Watershed destruction associated with logging roads ranked first as residents’ reason for opposing logging. Damaging slides and harm to fish and wildlife were close behind. What struck me at the time, as a newcomer to Youbou, was that the protection of the watershed outranked citizens’ complaints about slides and habitat destruction.
“I thought to myself, “Watersheds trump slides that can destroy lives and property?” I had to find out more. Talk about a learning curve! All these years later and hours and hours of research later, I see why watersheds were and remain a top priority: every living thing in the Cowichan Valley is dependent on intact watersheds. From the tops of the mountains to the estuaries, pure, clean, abundant water is the key to survival.”
Deck’s feelings on the matter aren’t unique.
“Some long time residents shared their experiences of flooding after the big fire in the ’40’s. They made the point that whether disturbances are natural (fire) or man-made (logging), the water that should be released slowly into the ground isn’t held back and rushes down the mountains,” Deck said of talk during Sunday’s meeting. “The wide range of attendees at our meeting was very encouraging, because it demonstrated that the community is not as divided on the issue of logging the steep slopes of our neighbourhood forest as we had assumed. There was definitely an energy there that I hadn’t seen since the Open Houses hosted by TimberWest when they first announced their logging plans.”
In addition to members of the community, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor attended the meeting, which, thanks to the announcement of a federal election in September, turned out to be the first stop on his campaign trail.
“He had accepted our invitation a couple of weeks earlier, so we were glad that the election announcement didn’t force a change in plans,” Deck noted. “At one point in his speech, he spoke of his years as a tree planter. He described working on a hot, dry clear cut; planting seedlings ‘into a bowl of dust’, as tree planters we have spoken to have also recounted.”
Deck said the in-person meeting gave resident the motivation they needed to continue the fight.
“COVID has robbed us of the opportunity to gather, but when done safely, the synergy of a concerned community renews hope and strengthens resolve,” she said.
Visit saveourholmes.com to learn more.