chief 

Demonstration dogs Chief announcement The provincial government is protecting the Stawamus Chief but local loggers don't want to hear about it and the District of Squamish doesn't want to increase the economic potential sportclimbers bring to Squamish's beleaguered logging industry, says a local rock climber. "There is an attitude in Squamish that comes from a small but influential part of the community that adventure sports such as rock climbing are not important to the local economy, and that is absolutely wrong," says Squamish-based publisher Kevin McLane, who has written the Rockclimber's Guide to Squamish and its 1994 follow up Squamish New Climbs. McLane made the comments in the wake of a noisy Tuesday morning demonstration by Squamish loggers, who drove empty logging trucks around Environment Minister Moe Sihota, in town to announce the creation of the 600-hectare Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. The air horns drowned out the meeting and skirmishes interrupted the proceedings as bingo-card waving loggers clashed with a small group who tried to curtail the demonstration. The loggers were protesting the creation of another park by the Ministry of Environment. Although no part of the new Stawamus Chief Provincial Park was slated for logging, many in the forest industry feel too much of the harvestable timber in the province is being lost to new parks and protected areas. Politics aside, McLane says, the announcement is a step forward in the protection of natural features as recreational amenities. According to McLane, the waning resource industry which has built Squamish has got to realize the gravy days of logging are over and effort should be re-directed to focus on the economic potential of Squamish's natural features — and the Chief is the first big step. The new protected area includes 451 acres of Crown land, 113 hectares of private property and 51 hectares of District of Squamish lands. In exchange for its lands the District has received 47 hectares of land for a future legacy municipal park north of the Chief — 60 per cent of the land will be developed. Tens of thousands of hikers and rock climbers enjoy the trails and routes on the Chief every year. While McLane and other recreationalists applaud the creation of the Stawamus Chief Park, they say it is a sounding board for the future. "Politically Squamish has never really looked at adventure sports as an economic generator," he says. "Squamish should be looking at activities like mountain biking, hiking and river sports as potential economic development, not recreation." Reaching 700 metres above Highway 99, the Chief has been a prominent feature on the rock climbing and hiking maps of thousands of folks. The opening of the highway in 1958 opened the Chief to recreational opportunities. The first ascent of the Grand Wall was made by Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper in 1961 and the popularity of the Chief as a climbing spot has grown since. In the past three years interest in sportclimbing has increased dramatically, and according to local outfitters, rock climbing is going to get bigger.

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