By Andrew Mitchell
From the highway it doesn’t look like forestry is a major industry within the Squamish Forest District, but 875,000 cubic metres of wood — enough to load 25,000 logging trucks — is harvested annually from a region that extends from Lions Bay in the south to Anderson Lake in the north.
Some older clearcuts are visible from the highway, lookout points and towns in the district, but most recent logging is deliberately done in such a way that it doesn’t impact on the overall view, or the growing tourism industry within the corridor. One of the main reasons is the increased attention paid to the value of views.
The Squamish Forest District has initiated a Frontcountry Zone Visual Landscape inventory Update after it was noted in the Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan round table process that the last inventories needed to be updated. Until Feb. 15, the consultant who is in charge of updating the inventory will accept public input on the Sea to Sky views that need to be protected.
According to Ken Fairhurst of RDI Resource Design, public input is important to the process.
“There are set visual quality objectives based on characteristics of the landform, the viewing opportunity and the viewer characteristics — including the level of concern from the public,” said Fairhurst. “The idea is to map out visually sensitive areas so you know where they are, and rate characteristics to come up with an overall sensitivity rating… and find those areas which are highly scenic and directly in view and probably have a high level of concern — as differentiated from other scenes that are more distant or out of direct views where resource activity may have greater influence.
“For example a highway pullout would have a higher value than, say, a glimpsed view of a side drainage.”
Fairburn put together the first visual landscape inventory in 1991 when he was working for the Ministry of Forests, and helped to put together the first update in 1996. The first update went from Lions Bay to just north of the Joffre Lakes.
The new update will mostly involve views and lookouts on Highway 99 to Joffre Lakes, as well as the view from the peak of Whistler Mountain. The Callaghan will not be included “but what can be seen from the highway up into the Callghan is in my visual inventory,” explained Fairhurst.
The value for each view will be assigned a rating from low to high, which will be taken into consideration in future forestry plans.
The list of protected views does not include private property or the activities of other Crown corporations, such as B.C. Hydro.
In addition to updating and amalgamating past inventories, Fairhurst says his own assessment will use different criteria for evaluating views than were used in the past, including different approaches used in Europe.
The issue of views came up during the Sea to Sky LRMP process as an important consideration for tourism and recreation industries, as well as on behalf of residents that turned out to open house meetings on the plan. Members of the LRMP table agreed and recommended that the Ministry of Forests update the current visual landscape inventory.
Member of the public can call Ken Fairhurst at 1-888-338-5676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate the areas they would like see protected.
“Some people might say why not protect the view from the back of the house, I will give some time to that, but it’s mainly just the principal routes we’re looking at, paved highways and the waterway of Howe Sound, as well as the views from urban areas,” said Fairhurst.
For more information, you can also visit the RDI website at www.1rdi.com/VLI.html