NCES responds to Stella-Jones logging plans

An open letter from the North Columbia Environmental Society regarding logging in the Begbie Bench area.

An open letter to Mr. Huettmeyer and Mr. Ladyman of Stella-Jones,

The North Columbia Environmental Society would like to thank Stella-Jones for providing an open house on Nov. 16 for public review of their logging plans for the Begbie Falls Area.

The NCES offers the following on the proposed plans.

The provincial government has changed many requirements for forest harvesting over the last number of years. We believe that many of these changes have been detrimental to the long term viability of our public forest resources.  We consider current requirements to be inadequate for allowing public input on the harvesting of our timber resources. We expect forest corporations to exercise higher environmental and social standards to meet the public’s expectation for use of our resources.

Through a public planning committee the Begbie Falls Integrated Resource Use Plan was created in the early 1990’s.  Bell Pole Co. Ltd (now Stella-Jones) participated in and was signatory to this Plan. We believe the intent of this plan, and the public’s desire for comprehensive management of this area remains unchanged today. Therefore the NCES believes that the Social License with the community of Revelstoke that was agreed to by Bell Pole should be adhered to by Stella-Jones.

We ask the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations to not issue a cutting permit until this plan is reviewed, updated, and agreed upon by the community at large.

As the province transitions from a timber extraction based forest economy to a tourism, recreation, and non-timber based forest economy, it is important that future forest opportunities not be negatively impacted by current plans that exclude all public participation. The future economy, lifestyle, and environmental values of the community must form the bases for all current planning otherwise the long term viability of the community will be in jeopardy. The Begbie Falls area is immediately adjacent to Revelstoke, is visible from many homes, tourists and Revelstokians hold a high emotional attachment to this area, has year round non-motorized recreational use, is an important area for wild food harvesting, and has high wildlife habitat values.

Official Community Plans, adjacent private property owners’ plans, and stakeholder visions for the area must be incorporated into all timber extraction plans to insure the viability of non- timber forest resources.

We feel that it is important for all forest harvesting to obtain a Social License before proceeding. This License can only occur through a process of public consultation that includes all aspects of planning from Stewardship Plans, to Cutting and Road Permits, to Site Plans and Silviculture Prescriptions.

The Foresters Act states that the professional forester has a duty to serve and protect the public interest while practicing forestry in B.C. It is therefore a social imperative to obtain public approval in advance of all forest harvesting.

The NCES asked that the MoFLNRO and Stella-Jones not proceed with forest plans for the Begbie Falls area until the community has had the opportunity to provide the necessary information that will insure the protection of the public interest.

We ask that the MoFLNRO allow an extension on Stella-Jones’ AAC until the community and Stella-Jones agree to an updated Begbie Falls Integrated Resource Use Plan and until Stella-Jones receives the Social Licence required to harvest crown resources in the Revelstoke area.

Thank you for your sustainable vision of our future.

Sarah Newton,

North Columbia Environmental Society Vice-President

 

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