Whistler council members are hoping to have an economic analysis of the proposed Stoltmann National Park completed in the next eight weeks. Council members asked for the study last month, so they can make an informed decision on the national park proposal, even though most councillors already seemed to support the park in principle. The One Whistler group, which includes the municipality, the Whistler Resort Association, the chamber of commerce and Whistler-Blackcomb, has offered to hold discussions with representatives of Squamish and Pemberton to develop terms of reference for the study. The economic impact a national park would have on Whistler is one of the key issues Whistler councillors and WRA President Suzanne Denbak have identified. However Councillor Ken Melamed noted that while the study is underway Interfor continues to log key parts of the proposed park. "The most valuable areas, which would ensure the success of a park, are being cut now," Melamed said. "My heart tells me not to support this, that we need to act more quickly," he added. "I’m not sure what the study will do but I’m prepared to wait, because I’ve been asked to." The Western Canada Wilderness Committee, which has for several years been leading the fight to have the so-called Stoltmann Wilderness preserved, last year proposed a national park for the area. Earlier this spring a Liberal MP from Toronto announced he would introduce a private members bill this fall to make the Stoltmann area a national park. Last weekend protesters climbed trees in the Elaho Valley in attempts to block International Forest Products from harvesting a stand of ancient Douglas fir trees. WCWC says the trees could be 1,300 years old. Interfor said earlier this week that the high forest fire rating prevented the company from logging. Meanwhile, the Whistler environmental group AWARE is not sure that a national park is the best way to protect the Stoltmann area. AWARE President Stephane Perron said a model such as that used to protect the Clayoquot area on Vancouver Island might be more appropriate than a national park.


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