Time for a plan for Mount Macpherson

Land-use plan needed for Mount Macpherson to make all stakeholders equal in what happens there.

Revelstoke has a long, proud history as a forestry community that continues to this day. It’s a key employer in the town, providing many well paying jobs. I hate to think what Revelstoke’s economy would look like without Downie Timber and the numerous logging companies that manage the forests around here and log the timber.

With that said, it’s time to re-think logging Mount Macpherson. I’m not talking about turning it into a park, but simply restricting logging activities there in order to recognize the fact that its value as a recreational area outstrips its value as a working forest.

This wasn’t always the case, and the development of Macpherson as a recreation area owes to its past as a working forest. The roads we ski on in the winter were built by logging companies. Some of the mountain biking infrastructure was built thanks to money from the forest industry.

Macpherson’s value as a recreation amenity is worth quite a bit, and not just in terms of attracting tourists, but also for increasing the quality of life for residents. As the recreation infrastructure increases there, that value increases. It provides a beautiful and unique forested area to walk, run, bike or ski around.

The logging that is being proposed would generate about $320,000 in economic value, according to BC Timber Sales. The 8,000 cubic metres that is logged is a tiny amount. It’s less than three per cent of BC Timber Sales expected annual harvest in the Columbia Forest District.

When you combine it with all the other harvesting conducted by Stella Jones, Downie Timber, Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation and other logging companies, it’s almost nothing. It would take decades for the area to once again resemble a forest and in the meantime Revelstoke would be left with yet another clear cut in a highly-valued area close to town. Is it really worth logging for that?

What’s the solution? One possibility is turning the area into a park, but several people I spoke to said that isn’t ideal because it will put restrictions on the area that will restrict future recreation development. A second thought would be to put a moratorium on logging on Macpherson except for extenuating circumstances. Keep it available for development of trails, but logging could still happen in case of insect infestation or some similar emergency.

A third idea is to turn the area over to the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation. As a publicly owner entity, this would ensure that the public’s interests are always kept in mind when logging is considered for the area.

Lastly is the idea raised in my article — a land-use plan for the area that would consider input from all stakeholders. It could mean logging would be allowed, but would set limits on how much is harvested and logging is done.

Right now if BCTS wants to log there, they come up with a plan and let people know. That forces smaller stakeholders to react to what they are up to. Fortunately, BCTS reached out well in advance of logging. A well thought out plan would be even better. It would create an even table where all partners are equal.

 

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