Communities rally to stop the logging 

Decision now rests with the Squamish Forest District

As the public comment period on a proposed logging operation in Pemberton draws to a close, residents, special interests groups and environmentalists have rallied in support of the Pemberton council and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

The SLRD and Pemberton councils are opposed to a plan by CRB Logging, working on behalf of Weyerhaeuser, to log behind the Signal Hill Elementary school.

This section of timber includes an area that is inside Pemberton’s watershed.

The timber CRB is intending to log can also be clearly seen from the Village of Pemberton and it is an area that residents use for a variety of activities, including hiking, mushroom picking and mountain biking.

In the past two weeks organizations from the B.C. Tap Water Alliance to the Rain Forest Action network have put details of the proposed logging operation on their Web sites and started contacting media organizations.

Operations Manager of the Squamish Forest District Neil Edwards indicted that the response to CRB’s proposal had been extensive.

"I know we have received quite a few letters and the general feeling in discussions we’ve had here is that there has been a lot of comments received," said Edwards.

He said once the public comment period finishes on Monday, Aug. 9 it would be up to CRB and Weyerhaeuser to submit a report on the public’s reaction.

"After the 60 day review period is up for the public, the company has to go and do their work and put together a package," he said.

"They must submit it with rationale and documentation and with the public comments and then information will be reviewed.

"Then it depends on whether or not it (their report) meets the legislative requirements."

The decision to approve the logging operation rests with District Manager Paul Kuster but Edwards said CRB’s report must first show that the company has taken into account the communities’ concerns.

"We have a lot of land base issues within the Sea to Sky corridor and the area covered by the (province’s) Land and Resource Development Plan, which we’re currently in the middle of.

"There are many other users who are expressing different uses for land base and the Olympics is a part of this as well."

Edwards stressed that the other problem with opposing logging operations in the Squamish District is that the logging industry has been in decline for a number of years and the government must also take this into account.

"I know that timber harvesting opportunities are becoming more and more constraint and I think all the reasons for constraint are valid, it’s just that there’s little or no room to move people around this district any longer," he said.

"If we were somewhere else then you can just send them somewhere else, but that (situation) doesn’t really exist here.

"It’s a very heavily used corridor for a multitude of reasons and because of that any tenured area that someone is licensed for, if they’re asked not to do it the ability to move them is quite limited."

There is no time limit on the District Manager’s decision regarding CRB’s plan, nor is it necessary for the Forest District to advertise the decision to the public.

But Edwards said due to the profile of this case the Forest District would investigate advertising the decision.

"In this case I don’t think it’s going to take a long time to make a decision."

This logging application has been a public relations nightmare for CRB and Weyerhaeuser but Bernice Patterson from CRB maintained that this application was a business decision.

"Logging is not an easy business. If it was everybody would be in it," said Patterson.

"This is probably the first year we’ve had good markets, with tariffs down and the best prices since 1995.

"How many businesses do you know can survive for 10 years?"

Patterson confirmed that CRB has also received a number of phone calls and letters from the public.

Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner said the next step for the council would be a meeting with Weyerhaeuser’s representative from Powell River, Walter Cowlard.

Cowlard has agreed to meet with the council and present a number of digital images of the area that could be logged.

Anyone wanting to express an opinion on the proposed logging in Pemberton can send a letter by the close of business Monday to Patterson at Box 328, Mount Currie, B.C., VON 2KO, or Andre Germain, Timber office, Ministry of Forests, Squamish Forest District, 42000 Loggers Lane, Squamish, B.C., VON 3G0.

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