Letter: Working forests are needed

The forests, both old and new, provide opportunities for generations to come

Working forests are needed

My grandfather Henry Norman was a Finnish immigrant and started logging around Cowichan Lake in 1912 and eventually Caycuse Camp in the 1920s. His job was to train loggers in a new method of harvesting timber with a wooden spar tree, and a donkey machine called a skidder with a skyline.

My dad Al Norman started logging in Caycuse Camp July 4, 1940 and eventually became the head rigger. Dad raised and rigged all the wooden spar trees until the steel spars were introduced.

Being raised in Caycuse and having logging in my blood, I too started in the division on July 17, 1974. Other than a short stint logging in Wakeman Sound in 1975 I have logged my entire career in the Caycuse-Renfrew area on TFL46.

I did most of the yarding and loading jobs until January 2001 when I decided it was time to take those caulked boots off and trained as a log truck driver. Today I haul logs for Mt. Sicker Timber and we contract for Teal Jones. I haul second growth loads from the same lands that my father and grandfather logged the first time.

If there is one thing I’ve seen in my almost half a century career it is change. I can certainly say that it is a far different industry today than when I started. Some changes I had difficulty with, but the change I definitely supported was the introduction of the Forest Practices Code. Even though nature has healed itself from some of our former ways, today we can brag that our logging practices are world class. The code ensures that we log in a more environmentally sensitive way. This is unlike other countries where there is little or no regulations. The real beauty of our industry is that it is renewable and sustainable.

It is extremely disturbing to hear the misinformation that the protestors are spreading about the future logging plans in the Fairy Creek watershed. This happens to be part of my working forest. Their misinformation is based on perception and emotion instead of on the facts. If in fact they studied the logging plan for that area, they would discover that the majority of the old growth timber would never be touched. If only they would consider the huge amount of planning, engineering, and red tape that went into even getting a cutting permit for the area.

The protestors are known to sabotage equipment, cut brake lines to ambulances, tamper with bridges, spike trees or anything else that could endanger the safety of forest workers in an already dangerous industry. This has meant that locked gates are now placed on the main logging roads with security people. Unfortunately, the people who want to enjoy our public lands for such things as fishing, hiking, hunting, or whatever cannot have access to them.

This year marks a 30th anniversary that is definitely not worth celebrating. In the summer of 1991, my logging division of Caycuse had to deal with protestors in the Walbran Valley. Even though 30 years have passed, a lot of the same misinformation they proclaimed then is being thrown out now. If their claim that Fairy Creek was the last untouched watershed, and the entire valley were to become permanently preserved in parkland, this group would only move on to the next valley and proclaim it to be the last untouched watershed as well.

As I write this the RCMP are dealing with these law-breaking protestors that are arrested and released with little or no consequences. Instead of focusing on crime, murderers, and drug dealers, the RCMP are having to put their efforts into arresting these protestors on a daily basis. The RCMP are totally frustrated. I could not imagine the cost to the tax payers.

We can all contribute to educating the public on the facts of what is actually happening in our industry. We must include the actual amount of old growth that there already is in B.C. and how huge an area that is permanently protected in parkland as good examples.

Now that my career in the industry is almost at an end, I truly wish that the working forest will not be further reduced. The forests, both old and new, provide opportunities for generations to come.

Rob Norman