Macpherson logging would hurt residents and tourists

I am writing to express my concern about the planned logging for the Mount Macpherson area.

Editor,

I am writing to express my concern about the planned logging for the Mount Macpherson area.

My concerns about the logging in this area ought to be shared by all users for a variety of reasons. Province-wide, Revelstoke is a desirable place to ride and this didn’t happen overnight. Over the last 10 years, I have seen the community promote, enhance and enjoy biking and skiing opportunities in the Macpherson trail network. Revelstoke has grown from being a relatively unknown biking destination to becoming internationally renowned for its riding opportunities. In addition to the well-established skiing culture we so love, we continue to see consistent tourism growth for summer adventure activities: biking being the primary interest for these people. I encounter many visitors in the winter raving about our world class winter recreation! I always add, “you should see this place in the summer.” And I mean it.

Our trail networks are second to none. Based on my own broad travel experience with my bikes, there are not many towns who boast trail networks such as ours. The economic, cultural, and public relations benefits of increased summer tourism to our community supplements the winter season and furthers the year-round growth we are experiencing. I expect once the results from the recent mountain biker’s trail use survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce are available, these trends will be even more clearly visible.

Secondly, we all ought to be concerned because this is not a small logging project with minimal effect to area trails. The area slated to be logged includes one of the signature trails of the Macpherson network. TNT is frequently ridden by locals and is my first recommendation to visitors for a fine Revelstoke cycling experience. I can only imagine our ability to showcase this area will be compromised by logging activity in the area and the establishment of another new ‘cutblock’ trail.

Furthermore, logging in that area will affect users during the time of the harvest, as we will be unable to use the centre of the network due to active logging and machinery.

Approach the supporting arguments for harvesting this area with healthy skepticism. When I hear both the BC Timber Sales and the Revelstoke Cycling Association say logging will not affect the trails, I vehemently disagree. For me, the argument that trails affected by the logged block can be rehabilitated is incorrect and misleading. For example, the loss of the surrounding timber will impact trails beyond what is possible for quick rehabilitation.  The tree canopy protects the trails from the constant onslaught of the Revelstoke rainy season, and the baking sun during summer. The roots hold the soil together, keeping it safe, tacky, and minimizing trail erosion. In the winter, the trees protect the trails from the spring sun and the drifting of snow caused by wind.

Dare I even mention the intrinsic value of cycling or skiing in the trees? Ridging and skiing in deforested areas is just not that much fun. One can only enjoy the aesthetics of riding through so many cut blocks before they choose a more authentic outdoor experience. We have a unique eco-system in Revelstoke that ought to be preserved. The same climate conditions that make the trees so valuable to logging companies make the ecosystem valuable to those who enjoy cycling and Nordic skiing not only for the workout but also for the time to be in the forest.

All of this seems to be contemplated notwithstanding the lessons we should have learned from past harvesting on and near established local trails.  When the Begbie Bench area was logged by Stella Jones, they infringed upon a land management agreement that had been put in place to protect our recreational areas from logging and to ensure land use was consisted with the goals of diverse user groups. This indifference toward shared use of our resources cannot be allowed to be repeated in this case. We need to ensure that the local community has a plan for the use of this area that puts recreation first.

The plan to harvest this area by putting it up for tender to establish a benchmark price going forward is artificial and contrived. The price that this block will fetch will never truly reflect the costs to the local community. In terms of lost tourism revenues, in-kind volunteer labour hours and ski club resources we stand to lose direct future investment in our community. People will choose to ride and live elsewhere: where trails are sustainable and shared according to established letters of understanding.

With regard to BC forest fire fighter labour time and Columbia Basin Trust grant money spent to build, improve and maintain the trail network, we lose hours and dollars of effort already spent on developing this area. Having worked in the forest industry in the past, I understand the roll this industry plays in contributing to our community. However, it is my opinion that this block is not a community sustaining project; its purpose is to set a benchmark for the industry and generate direct net revenue for the province. Its benefit, if any, does not serve any local purpose. The $320,000 block on auction will cause a large impact in our recreational community but a small impact when considering the $437 million net revenues generate by BCTS. There is no guarantee that the winning bid will bring either direct or indirect jobs to our community.

As a member of this community I want to be proud of our recreational opportunities. I want to continue to champion that I live here because in Revelstoke I have the best of both worlds — a meaningful career and an epic playground steps from my door. I hope that BCTS will reconsider their plans to put our valuable recreational facilities up for auction and that the RCA will take a stronger stance towards preserving our local area trails for recreational use.

Thank you for your consideration,

Carol Prince

Revelstoke

 

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