Community forest more about protecting than cutting 

Mayor, Beresford clarify misinformation about logging plans around Whistler


Whistler's mayor wants to halt the misinformation circling the Internet about the Cheakamus Community Forest program.

If the face of several videos and social media groups that accuse Whistler of logging old growth trees throughout the area, Ken Melamed said the Cheakamus Community Forest partnership actually goes a long way toward protecting those trees.

"The purpose of the Community Forest is to develop a more responsible approach to logging," said the mayor. "The first priority is to identify those sensitive habitat areas within the Community Forest and set them aside. After that, there will be a science-based analysis of where logging can occur appropriately without compromising those values."

Melamed added the community forest partnership involving the municipality, the Squamish Nation and the Lil'wat Nation is in line with many of the principles that people are writing to him about.

Those principles include protecting old growth trees.

In planning the community forest, over 90 per cent of the old growth trees in the tenure have been protected in one way or another. Old growth means trees in an area that has never been cut.

A public open house will be held on Sept. 9 at municipal hall to go over the proposal.

Heather Beresford, the municipality's manager of environmental stewardship, added that if the Cheakamus Community Forest was not formed "harvesting would be happening in this area by a private company or B.C. Timber Sales.

"They would be harvesting more, and there would be very little public input opportunity," said Beresford. "Whistler did not invent logging in Whistler. This is an effort to control how and where it is done and to meet the community's needs."

Beresford said the partnership is not going to make everybody happy, but they are trying to balance it as best they can.

Most of the social media pieces criticizing the Cheakamus Community Forest partnership contain misinformation.

One YouTube video states, "Eighty per cent of the old growth forest is scheduled to be cut," which is not the case.

The video also asks people to write to Whistler's mayor and the premier of B.C. saying they will not visit Whistler unless Whistler promises "not to cut the old growth trees." The mayor would not specify exactly how many e-mails he has received as a result.

Meanwhile, Pique has received e-mails from people across Canada and as far away as the Czech Republic condemning the logging plans.

The issue began receiving attention this spring when the owner of a snowmobile company with a tenure in the Callaghan valley spoke out against the community forest.


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