The blowdown salvage operations are more like patch clearcuts, say critics. (Icel Dobell photo)

Stoney Hill and Maple Mountain: blowdown salvage not as advertised

Hundreds of live trees have just been logged on Stoney Hill.

Stoney Hill and Maple Mountain: blowdown salvage not as advertised

Hundreds of live trees have just been logged on Stoney Hill. Eight months of 1,500 citizens asking for pause and consultation. It never happened. My heart is breaking and I’m shaking with anger.

Chris Istace recently documented the unexpected large-scale blowdown salvage on a much loved trail on Maple Mountain He says, “It was the most shocking and saddest actions of logging on the local mountains I had seen done by forestry.”

The other four mountains are next. We’re sending out footage. People on Facebook are angry.

The salvage is not what they told us. It’s not the removal of “damaged timber only” — not even close. The justification is safety for the fallers. But most of it didn’t have to be fallen; all we had to do was get the branches down. The proof is on the ground — or was. It is being removed as fast as possible.

I’m hurrying through the forest trying to document what is going down. People have no idea — including council and the public. We took footage before, will video after — but the process is so destructive to the fragile ecology, is opening up the canopy, ripping up the ground, spreading broom — seedlings all around — about to create an on-going fire risk and public expense beyond most people’s understanding — this part of the story must be documented.

Councillor Sawrie recently took a courageous stand, said she regretted voting for the salvage with no public consultation; she thought it was pulling fallen trees from the roadsides; she didn’t realize it was patch clearcutting. Sawrie said she would not approve any more salvaging until public consultation.

The council chamber full of concerned citizens burst into applause and were silenced. Councillor Justice “verbally applauded” Sawrie. Councillor Marsh gave her support. After eight months of citizens asking for pause of all logging, including salvaging, after Sawrie’s moving speech, it looked like pause of salvaging would actually happen. But it didn’t. Why not? The answer is complex, not “transparent” as promised.

The good news is there is an irrefutable alternative. UBC forest experts recently reported carbon tax credits and not logging could earn revenue comparable to logging. So now there is no justification for logging live trees in the name of “salvaging” natural occurrences like fire and windfall — we would be throwing away future income.

Furthermore, because of invasive species, like broom, gorse and a litany of others that are strangling the native ecosystem, having to replant after logging, the cost of building logging roads, with climate change — drought, erosion, the affect on our watersheds — and many other reasons, to continue clear cut salvaging makes no sense.

Go to WhereDoWeStand.ca for our perspective.

Icel Dobell

North Cowichan

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