The Quartz Creek watershed is located in the area behind the small community of Ymir south of Nelson. Photo: Tyler Harper

Timber companies swap management of controversial Ymir watershed

Fruitvale's ATCO Wood Products is now overseeing Quartz Creek

The management of a contentious forestry area that includes Ymir’s watershed has changed hands.

Fruitvale-based ATCO Wood Products became the licensee for Quartz Creek in December after the area was offered by B.C. Timber Sales during a reallocation of the Arrow Timber Supply Area.

ATCO CEO Scott Weatherford said his company has yet to send any foresters into the area, nor have they reviewed any studies BCTS made while they were managing Quartz Creek.

“We’re starting with a blank page there,” he said.

In 2017, BCTS announced it would develop three cut-blocks in an area that included the community’s only watershed.

The plan was met with local backlash as well as opposition from Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Area G director Hans Cunningham, whose electoral area includes Ymir. The Lower Kootenay Band has also offered its support to the community.

The Ymir Community Watershed Society meanwhile was formed and, in 2019, sent a letter to Premier John Horgan and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources alleging BCTS had failed to address local concerns.

A spokesperson with the forestry ministry said a review by an independent consultant showed a need to rebalance the mature timber allocation between tenure holders. That led to Quartz Creek moving from BCTS to ATCO.

Weatherford said there will be consultation between ATCO and Ymir residents. He added Quartz Creek makes sense for his company, which has foresters in nearby Salmo and Nelson.

“We’re looking at this from a fresh set of eyes and we’ll bring our approach to responsible forestry there …,” he said. “We look forward to engaging the users there on how that area is managed and what we do.”

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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