Western Forest Products says there are no cutblocks planned for the Callaghan Valley this summer in the vicinity of the proposed Olympic nordic site, but Tourism Minister Ian Waddell said this week the province must act to preserve the area from logging. Waddell told Mountain FM that if logging plans do impact on the proposed nordic site, the province — which at this point is the signatory for the Olympic bid — must act to protect its options. Waddell’s announcement was good news to local officials concerned about the Olympic bid and the fact that logging could happen before a new bid society is in place. A new Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic bid society is expected to be announced in May. The previous bid society was disbanded last December, after Vancouver-Whistler won the right to carry Canada’s bid for the 2010 Games. At the moment there is no official board of governors for the Olympic bid, and no one co-ordinating what goes on in the Callaghan with plans for the Olympics. That was evident this week as a Western Forest Products employee said the company has received no written response from any members of the public since public forums were held earlier this year outlining the company’s five year cutting plans. Jim Neuman called the proposed nordic development "hearsay" and said Western Forest Products is the only one that has a plan for the area. He added that no one has talked to the company on an official level about plans for the Olympics. Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said this week he would be sending out letters regarding Whistler’s concerns with the forest management plan for the Callaghan. He called the lack of concern for the Olympics "highly inappropriate." Councillor Ken Melamed, a member of the municipality’s Wildland Committee, said recent discussions with District Forest Manager Paul Kuster showed his office has had no instructions from the province to give any consideration to the Olympic bid. Melamed added that the committee is providing a written response to Western Forest Products’ five year plan. Neuman said no cutting is planned in the Alexandra Falls area of the Callaghan this year, although other areas of the valley are slated for logging. The timing of the cutblocks depends on the review process, which includes input from the Wildland Committee. Neuman said the cutblocks planned are in a flat area and wouldn’t be visible while driving to Callaghan Lake.

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