Letter: Logging on Macpherson needs to stop

Land-use plan for Mount Macpherson isn't balanced and needs to be re-considered, writes Virginia Thompson.

Editor,

I feel constrained to write in response to Minister Thomson’s assertion that the plan to log Mt. Macpherson is a balanced one.

I find it to be imbalanced in and of itself, but also within the context of the larger picture of logging in this valley, from Shelter Bay to north of Mica.

As many have stated, tourism is now the single greatest economic driver in this community, with logging probably now being second.

The profits from this particular logging project (Mount Macpherson) might be $250,000 every 80 years or so, before expenses, while mountain biking probably brings in approximately $203,000 year after year.

One would think this would be a no-brainer, even talking only economically. This doesn’t even consider the health and well-being of tourists and locals alike who “recharge their batteries” bicycling, cross-country skiing, hiking or just communing with nature.

Many consider areas such as Begbie Falls to be sacred places.

It is now scientifically proven that spending time in forests reduces stress – chemically. So, mature and old growth forests are important for human well-being at every level. Leaving buffer zones, which often blow down, do not fulfill the needs of humans in the same way as an undisturbed forest does. Offering small amounts of money for trails or construction are really a pittance in the larger picture.

If you look at what has happened in this valley, it is a story of logging having its way.

Recently, Stella Jones logged around Begbie Bench against the wishes of the local community. There was no real consultation, only information about what was going to happen. So far this has been repeated in the Mount Macpherson “process.”

Boulder Mountain was shaved really, under the pretext of forest health. Apparently, fir bark beetle was in this forest – I was told by one official it was a 70 per cent infestation, and by another, 40 per cent.

Fir bark beetle is a cyclical infestation – perhaps this was more serious. However, there have been many instances in this province of logging for forest health which have gone far beyond what was called for. Boulder Mountain is really the main viewscape of Revelstoke. It used to be customary and even perhaps part of regulation in B.C., for forest companies to need to gain permission from a community to log their viewscape. This practice has disappeared under the recent provincial Liberal governments.

Then there is the Biodiversity Amendment in the Revelstoke Higher Level Land Use Plan.  When this plan was being hashed out, people foresaw the likelihood of increased retention of forest for mountain caribou habitat. So, they included a biodiversity amendment which allowed old growth management areas (OGMAs) to be logged to make up for any loss of logging area to caribou recovery. When this happened in the 2007 Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan, the biodiversity amendment was invoked in 2011 to compensate licensees. In fact, they were compensated by slightly more than they lost. This is amazing enough in itself – not quite the story of retention of habitat the government would like people to hear – but equally outrageous is that OGMAs were set aside for ecological reasons, and should not be touched.

So I find that the story here is not one of balance. No matter which lens you look through – economic, social, health, spiritual near or far forest – there is no balance. Finally, there is the lens of process. The provincial government is not listening to our local community about our near forest.  It is not listening about the rest of the forest either. The Forest Practices Board found the Ministry of Forests to be at fault in not consulting properly with local interests, including environmental interests concerning the biodiversity amendment. The province said in the public meeting on logging on Mount Macpherson that it was for the good of the whole. When the whole (the province) is favoured over the part (the community in this case), the result is oppression. There is an imbalance in power. The same occurs if the part is favoured over the whole. I don’t think putting the near forest into park or very selectively logging it would be favouring the part. I think what people of this community want here is true balance. Real consultation is needed for this to be achieved.

Virginia Thompson,

Revelstoke