Revelstoke council has asked for development of a long-term plan to manage the Mount Macpherson area.
Council voted unanimously in support of a motion to approach the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) about holding a meeting between stakeholders in the Mount Macpherson area to develop a plan.
“What I’ve learned is that under the current forest rules is there’s not a lot of long-term planning. You can’t put a plan on a map and say that’s what we’re going to do,” said councillor Aaron Orlando during discussion on the motion. “That’s really at the core of what people are seeking. Some sort of planning, some sort of way to see what they’re going to do.”
The motion comes in response to concerns over plans by BC Timber Sales to log two new cut blocks on Mount Macpherson that would impact several mountain biking and cross-country skiing trails.
The area has been logged for more than a century but it has developed as a recreational area over the past few decades. BCTS, Stella Jones and one woodlot licensee hold harvesting rights, while the Revelstoke Cycling Association and Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club manage trail networks. The trail networks were developed in partnership with the forestry companies and government.
Two cut blocks in the Begbie Bench area were logged in 2013 by Stella Jones, despite some protests. BCTS’ last logging was in the area of the Buff Enuff trail in 2008.
A report to council by Alan Mason, the city’s director of economic development, notes the growth in recreational use of the area both by residents and tourists.
BCTS doesn’t plan on harvesting the area until late-2016, however the issue has already emerged as an important one in the community. A recent online petition calling for a moratorium on logging Macpherson until a long-term plan is developed garnered 1,652 signatures from people all over the world, including 630 from Revelstoke.
Two open houses have been held in response to concerns. The first was at the community centre in January. About 150 people attended the meeting, which was organized by the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations; BCTS, and local forestry companies.
BCTS held a second open house at its office over two days in March. Forty-two people attended to get a better look at the logging plans.
The decision to approach the ministry is council’s first public move on the issue, though mayor Mark McKee said he broached the subject with Minister Steve Thompson during a trip to Victoria in February.
Councillors agreed that seeking a long-term plan involving all stakeholders was the right approach for now.
A second motion introduced by Linda Nixon to request having the the area turned into a community forest was tabled for the time. Mayor McKee argued against it, saying it should only be a last resort.
“I have a concern with going after a community forest when we haven’t exhausted all the other avenues before us,” he said. “I don’t want people to perceive this is a threat from the community.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article said there were two woodlot licensees in the Mount Macpherson area. In fact, there is only one.