Hank Shelley

Saving Shuswap forests everyone’s responsibility

Shuswap Outdoors/Hank Shelley

A few seasons back, while glassing mountain goats from high atop an alpine glade, the huge cedars in the forest below Mt. Joss in the upper Wap (south of Three Valley Gap) were all gone. A profusion of stumps remained. Logging roads wound up the rugged valley.

We had fought wildfire under the canopy of those giants 30 seasons before. The steep terrain alpine is also home to a population of grizzly bears. (Two, which terrorized our three-man camp one night). Goat quarters were strung high in a balsam tree.

Trying to keep a small bit of BC wilderness wild is becoming more complicated these days, due to increased logging activity. This, to increase a steady supply of logs to computerized mills, with fewer workers.

However, our forests are under attack by what was the pine beetle, and now the fir bark beetle, attacking blow down and stressed stands of mature fir timber, let alone the huge volume of timber lost to wildfires, 2017-18. So our forests as we once knew them are under threat.

Related: 2017 – Candidates tackle the environment

The diseased, burnt timber has to be logged. While some hunters and anglers are okay with such damaged landscapes, others that love the wilderness agree with a saying by Aldo Leopold, father of conservation: ”To build a road is much simpler than to think of what the country really needs. Recreational development is a job not of building roads into lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. With hard work and backwoods skills, inspiration of pristine nature still matters today, more than ever, as we see what climate change is doing to the planet, and us at home.

Related: Forest cleared of 22,000 pounds of junk

Too, we must be more vocal and tune into Forest Watch and BC Timber sales, what’s happening in our watersheds. Go online for information on current outdoor events, including water-quality issues.

The attitude of “as long as it doesn’t affect me” doesn’t hold water anymore. Our wildlife, large and small including bird life, are feeling the effects of extensive tree harvest and wildfire, as the habitat and forest they call home is also dwindling, at an alarming rate.

Too, there will have to be consultation between First Nations, hunters and wildlife groups if we want continued harvest of elk, moose, deer, bear, salmon and trout in a shrinking environment. Although First Nations groups/Metis, can harvest game through August/December, I’ve found it very difficult as Native affairs chair (BCWF, region #3) to get accountability on meetings and harvest numbers over time. They are under the microscope too for what the future holds for game populations when the rubber hits the road!


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