The logging rights to a portion of Mount Ida’s trees will likely be sold between September 2022 and February 2023, but road building may begin before that.
Salmon Arm council heard details of the logging at the city’s May 3 development services meeting, when four representatives from BC Timber Sales (BCTS) came to outline harvesting plans. The map provided shows three areas of proposed logging totalling 38.90 hectares, along with associated roads.
Once a bid is chosen, a specified amount of time would be allotted to carry out the contract, council was told.
The city received initial information from BCTS on March 11. The three areas in question are within the city boundary and one cut block overlaps a city reservoir.
BC Timber Sales manages about 20 per cent of the province’s allowable annual cut of Crown timber, according to the provincial government website.
The May 3 hour-long session focused on why the logging is planned, if the area will be clear-cut, how it will visually impact the community, if First Nations have been included, and how it will affect water, trails and wildfire protection.
Regarding roads, Warren Yablonski, woodlands supervisor with BCTS, said the hydro line is going to be the main access. The red dash-marks on the map show where new roads will be built. Most will be temporary, he said, although some trails will be left, possibly quad trails, so the blocks can be replanted afterward.
He said there is also a red-dash road coming in from the north end of the hydro line, so another quad trail might be left there.
“But other than that, there shouldn’t be anything left. For roads, we try to minimize…,” Yablonski said.
Asked why the logging is being done and why so close to the community, Yablonski replied: “I guess this development kind of came up because of the whole fuel loading in and around communities. We were approached by local consultants and have been working with them and local First Nations in terms of fuel management…”
He said lots of the timber being taken out will support local economies and local mills, while providing a starting point for wildfire fuel management.
“If you just do the little bits of fuel management where they go through and clean up understory…it’s very expensive work, so it’s hard to make a big difference in terms of wildfire, whereas if we can go in and do some logging and they can do some other work in between these patches, that creates a better opportunity for actually stopping a fire.”
He said BCTS has not done any timber harvesting for more than 10 years on Mt. Ida, realizing it’s a sensitive area, particularly for First Nations.
“Believe me, this isn’t an ideal place to operate for us because it is a lot more work to get this volume out. It’s part of our operating area, so we do need to be active there at some point in time.”
BCTS staff also said the Secwépmec Nation, specifically the Neskonlith band, has been sent referrals regarding the logging, and the Shuswap Trail Alliance has been contacted.
As for the visual impact, it’s neither clear-cutting nor selective logging, but ‘dispersed retention.’
Single trees as well as tree patches will be strategically left, which will be determined by a visual impact analysis that’s done before the logging.
Yablonski said there’s one block in the north that has a lot of root rot and trees already dying, so it will be more difficult there to leave trees.
Overall, he said he’s aiming for about 20 “stems” or so per hectare.
“These blocks will hardly be seen from anywhere, except if you’re in the industrial neighbourhood there right down below, or if you’re right beside them at the bottom of the hill there.”
He said the visual analysis could be shared with council when it’s complete.
BCTS planner Grace Chomitz said BCTS is working with an engineer and hydrologist to complete an assessment of the community watershed and the existing water intake. From this assessment, she said BCTS would take all the water protection precautions and incorporate them into their plans. Staff also said the terrain is not steep nor prone to sliding.
Regarding input from the municipal government, Chomitz said they welcome local comments and knowledge and take it into account when planning the blocks.
“That doesn’t mean if you say don’t log here we won’t do what we have to do, but we want to do it in conjunction with the stakeholders and First Nations.”
Coun. Tim Lavery, council’s FireSmart liaison who asked a series of questions, said in conclusion that he supports the logging plan because it adds to fuel mitigation around the industrial area, which is a risky area.
Fire chief Brad Shirley told the meeting he will be glad to see the work start, “especially as it relates to working with Silvatech in the community wildfire risk reduction. It is an area that has been identified as high hazard.”
Asking about ensuing slash burning, Shirley was told BCTS would like to see chipping and grinding of the material.
At city council’s May 10 meeting, council decided not to send further input to BCTS, deciding that the May 3 discussions made their concerns clear. However, the provincial processes that leave municipal governments uninformed about topics such as groundwater, logging and mining in their communities raised the concern of council. Coun. Kevin Flynn suggested it be discussed further with the Union of BC Municipalities.
To comment on the BC Timber Sales development on Mount Ida, you may contact Grace.Chomitz@gov.bc.ca, 778-943-0170.
Input was set to close on May 12.