Columbia Shuswap Regional District electoral area directors are calling for a moratorium on logging in two areas and are asking the province to tighten up forest operations.
At an April 4 EAD meeting, directors gave unanimous support to a motion to call for a moratorium on future logging activity in the Hummingbird Creek and Mara Lake basin due to the history of large debris flows. Directors will also ask Tolko Industries (Lumby) to hold public engagement meetings in Sicamous, Falkland and Silver Creek to provide information and answer questions regarding recent Forest Stewardship Plan amendments.
Area D Falkland-Silver Creek director Rene Talbot said Tolko wants to log in areas that have been affected by recent forest fires in Falkland.
He told directors he has spent a lot of time in the bush and has seen the amount of debris in the area. His concern is that rain and snow in logged-out areas will result in debris flows.
In Silver Creek, he echoes property owner Glen Koenig’s concerns regarding the effect logging has already had on his 80-acre orchard, which has seen a 60-per cent drop in water supply in the last two years.
“There are eight spots they want to log in the Salmon Valley and I think it’s just the start,” Koenig says, noting Tolko officials have told him they believe a proposed cutblock will affect about .8 of a hectare of his property and probably less. “There are more logging roads up top in the watershed and if you fly over the area, they have logged off the tops and now they’re working down the valley sides.”
Koenig says the sites are near creeks that eventually feed into the salmon River and could affect salmon stock. He says not only has water flow to his property slowed dramatically over the past few years, but water for his home and orchard is full of sediment that blocks filters.
“I believe it’s because of logging at the top; Lost Lake used to run from the north fork and we had steady water, now come July, it starts slowing down and in August, we’re getting a trickle out of the south fork of Sanderson Creek,” he says. “I’ve gone from irrigation heads in the orchard to misters so we can save water to irrigate this orchard. We used to be able to run three irrigation lines but now we’re down to one and we have to run it at night.”
Directors at last week’s EAD meeting had concerns about how logging notices have been issued in mailouts and accompanying maps of proposed cutblocks are almost impossible to understand.
“I would definitely like Tolko to come to Falkland and Silver Creek and show people what they’re gonna do instead of sending a mailout,” Talbot said, calling for a moratorium on logging in his area until it is safe to do so. “If there’s a problem, who’s gonna fix it? Probably no one.”
Area C director Paul Demenok agreed and criticized the content of the mailout provided by Tolko.
“The letter from companies does not let you understand sightlines, drainage or terrain stability,” he said. “We’re left with very little information.”
Area A Rural Revelstoke director Loni Parker was vehement in her call for changes to how logging is practised in the B.C. Interior.
“It’s about time local government presses the province to make the forestry companies more responsible for the work they do on the land in areas that have had impacts before,” she said. “I believe forest companies should have independent hydrology reports on water, community water, recreation and homes and how they will be impacted.”
Parker pointed to a meeting a forest company held in Revelstoke in which attendees were told the company would present their plans but not respond to any questions.
Area E Rural Sicamous director and CSRD chair Rhona Martin said she started the conversation about the proposed logging amendments because of the trauma to the people at Swansea Point suffer every time there’s a heavy rain.
“They’re very concerned anytime they hear any activity up above their community,” she said. “And we have had issues out in Malakwa where one local resident lost their water supply due to a Tolko cut block and nothing was done until the Forest Practices Board became involved.”
Martin says Tolko’s amendment to their forest plan is huge compared to the original plan and an issue throughout the B.C. Interior
“I know District of Sicamous would have concerns about Two Mile Creek and while Hummingbird has already been scoured out, we have always been worried about Mara Creek,” Martin said, noting she had asked planner Jan Thingsted to show cutblocks in terms of watercourses on a large map at the EAD meeting. “To see logging right up alongside a fairly large tributary (of Mara Creek) gives me great concern as well. I think it’s important Tolko take the time to be present in community and be available to speak with community members to find out what’s happening – not just these little blobs on a map.”
Thingsted responded to several directors’ concerns about Swansea Point by noting there is bedrock underlying the soils and that forest companies are required to have professionals do assessments based on known history of events and current conditions, whether they do that in-house or hire someone.
Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo was in the gallery and said he understood the significant concern.
“It’s really important that we let science dictate what’s gonna happen,” he said. “I know there has been discussion on a full- stop moratorium but we’re not there yet.”
Meanwhile, a meeting regarding Tolko’s plans for the Salmon River Valley will be held April 12 at the Silver Creek Community Hall.