Community forest 2011 harvesting plans on display 

Foresters working slowly on master plan for tenure

After a rocky start in 2010 with a conflicting recreational tenure and concerns about old growth logging, the Cheakamus Community Forest presented its timber harvesting plans for 2011 at the Whistler Public Library on Tuesday.

The goal this year, according to forester Tom Cole, is to work slowly and tentatively - do some harvesting in the fringes using existing roads and skidder trails, and in areas where there are minimal conflicts like power line corridors.

He's also working with Canadian Snowmobile Adventures and Blackcomb Snowmobiles to ensure that road building and harvesting plans in the Callaghan compliment their tour activities, while also addressing the needs of other stakeholders like the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association. It's been a learning process, said Cole, one that's been guided by the Forests and Wildlands Advisory Committee (FWAC).

"It's testing the waters," said Cole. "Right now FWAC is playing the monitoring role in the community. If we do something and don't hear back about it then we know we're on the right track."

It might seem like a backwards process - log an area and then see how people react - but with all the competing interests and plans in the area it's a challenge to do any timber harvesting without impacting recreational tenures, viewscapes, trails, First Nations interests, conservation interests and other factors. As well, most people don't make an effort to review local timber harvesting plans and can be caught by surprise when the harvesting begins.

That's why Cole's goal for 2011 is to work slowly and focus on harvesting second growth forest until the master plan for the area, in its second draft, is completed.

For more on this story read this week's Pique out Thursday.

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