A request by the Horsefly District Board of Trade to halt the deactivation of logging roads in the Horsefly area has the Cariboo Regional District’s support.
At its regular meeting Thursday, Feb. 9, the board agreed to send a letter to local MLAs requesting a meeting about the roads.
“We have tourism companies that are trying to put together packages that rely on using these roads,” CRD chair Al Richmond told the Tribune. “If you take the road out and make it impassable you can no longer enjoy the backcountry.”
When forestry companies move out they are responsible for the liability so they deactivate the roads, Richmond said, but noted that is a short-sighted approach because it prevents access if there’s a fire.
“And if the company wants to go back in the future to log they will have to rebuild the roads again,” he said.
The CRD will be asking if the roads can be kept as resource roads, Richmond said.
“We have old skidder trails and wagon roads that are just there and there is no inherent liability to them.”
In a letter to the Minister of Forests Steve Thomson the board of trade said members were horrified to learn that road deactivations planned for 2017 include the 8500 Road off Lemon Lake Road to Horsefly Mountain, Antoine Lake area between Beaver Valley Road and Antoine Lake Road, the 550 Road A and B, the Whiskey Bridges area and Sucker Lake Forest Service Road.
“These roads existed and were used in Horsefly long before they became logging roads,” the letter stated. “The timber was initially cruised and accessed using existing trails and roads that were put in by miners, trappers, guides, ranchers, etc. The history of Horsefly goes back to 1859 and there are families here who have used those very roads for 150 years.”
The Ministry of Forests said Thursday the roads in question are not public roads, they are road permit roads under licence to the forest industry.
“Although there are plans to deactivate these roads, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operation has a commitment from the forest industry to not undertake any deactivation activities until the community and the ministry explore possible options,” ministry spokesperson Dave Townsend said in an e-mailed response.
Licensees who hold tenure over roads such as these are obligated to maintain these sections until such time that they are deactivated, or alternatively taken over by another tenure, Townsend added, noting, where there are no further timber opportunities and silviculture obligations are complete, it is common practice to deactivate roads; however, there are options for these road sections to be tenured to non-timber tenure holders or other stakeholders.
“The ministry has met with the Horsefly Board of Trade to understand their interests and will continue to meet with them,” Townsend said.
For about a month, Horsefly area resident Chad Peterson has been encouraging other residents to contact the ministry of forests and local MLAs about the issue.
Peterson even left copies of sample letters at the gas station in Horsefly for people to use. This week a staff person at the gas station confirmed they have had to recopy the letters several times because “quite a few” people have picked them up.
Peterson said he first learned about the planned deactivations when he saw ribbons on the Sucker Lake Road.
“They followed through and created cross ditches, pulled culverts and a bridge,” he said.“People were bothered by that and ended up getting information about which roads were scheduled for deactivation.”