stoltmann 

For whom the timber bell tolls Fifteen years ago Paul George and a number of other budding preservationists started the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. This weekend, George and his WCWC supporters are going to meet in a 100-hectare clearcut in the Elaho Valley to commemorate a decade-and-a-half of eco-consciousness raising. A seasoned warrior of battles in the woods, George says he is almost ready to raise the white flag as the harvesting of B.C.'s timber goes on. "There is so little left. When we started 15 years ago there seemed endless wilderness in B.C.," the 54-year-old George says. "We've been more successful than I thought we'd be, but it sometimes seems hopeless." George says WCWC organizers expect 150 campers at the campout in the proposed 260,000 hectare Stoltmann Wilderness Area, north-west of Whistler. He says there will be a guided tour along the recently constructed "Bandit Trail" into what is now dubbed the Elaho Giant — the third largest Douglas Fir in B.C. He says the 25-minute hike to the huge tree will be offset by the camping, which will take place in a 100-hectare clearcut. WCWC Campaign Director Joe Foy hiked the Bandit Trail with Squamish Forest Service Recreation Officer John Tisdale to see whether the trail building met the recreation guidelines of the new Forest Practices Code. "They have faxed a formal trail proposal to us and we will be reviewing the construction that has taken place to date," Tisdale says, adding the main objective of the Forest Service is to get a system set up for some positive pre-planning for recreation trails on Crown land. Trail proposals are judged on three criteria: public safety, environmental degradation and possible resource conflicts. "If a trail proposal comes in and all three of those factors are met there shouldn't be much of a problem with the approval process," Tisdale says. According to George, the recent passage of the Forest Practices Code is a step in the right direction, but he says the rules don't seem to make any difference to logging companies. "You have these groups like the Forest Alliance and the Soo Coalition saying ‘We used to log bad, but now we're doing it right’ and that's a big lie," George says, pointing to logging road construction that went on at a frenetic pace all weekend within sight of where the Stoltmann campout will be held. "Mac-Blo helicoptered fallers in there and they worked overtime all weekend. When you see that it's obvious they're rushing to get what they can as quickly as possible because the bell is tolling."

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