Land use management a success in corridor… sort of 

Issues still exist, but interested parties are in a better position to handle them

While there are still literally hundreds of land use conflicts to resolve in Sea to Sky country/Squamish Forest District, when you consider the number of diverse interests at work in the area and the pressure the land base is under from the Lower Mainland population, the corridor is a good example of co-operation between governments, corporations and the public.

At least that was the conclusion all three panel members reached at a discussion on "Managing the public/forest interface," one of dozens of sessions held at the 93 rd Canadian Institute of Forestry Annual General Meeting and Conference in Whistler this week.

"If we can manage all he forest pressures and people pressures in this area we could manage these pressures anywhere else in the province," says Squamish Forest District manager Paul Kuster, the panel’s moderator.

The panel included Ric Slaco of International Forest Products, Peter Jones of the B.C. Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, and Don MacLaurin who represented the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Lyle Leo of the Mount Currie Band, and chief executive officer of Creekside Resources, was supposed to round out the panel, but broke his wrist the previous weekend in an accident and could not attend.

The Squamish Forest District is unique in B.C., with the resource towns of Squamish and Pemberton bookending Whistler, one of the top mountain resorts in the world. The same area provides recreation to many of the 2.2 million people who live in the Lower Mainland. There are also the needs of First Nations to balance in the equation and respect in the absence of a treaty or a solution to native land claims.

"The population in this area is expected to double in the next 20 years," says Jones, the co-ordinator for the Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan which is expected to be completed in fall of 2002. "How well we handle that growth will depend on how well we manage the interface between the public and resource industries.

"At the same time, the answers we come up with will have to deal with the transportation issues, with the 2010 Olympic Bid, with the continuing debate over old growth forests."

Jones points to the number of studies that have already been done in the corridor, on everything from grizzly bear management to forest practices, as a means of achieving a balance between interests. The Sea to Sky LRMP table already has close to 20 different maps of the area to consider when making recommendations and decisions.

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