Erik, my friend, you say you just want a dialog about the Upper Clearwater logging controversy. Yet, when someone gives a point of view different from yours, you say he must have a headache and recommend he take two Tylenol.
Last week, Upper Clearwater resident Erik Milton wrote a letter to the editor (“Logging controversy is about many things“). It was in reply to an editorial (“Compromise needed for Upper Clearwater logging controversy“) that appeared in our June 5 issue.
The editorial suggested that having Wells Gray Community Forest log the “Three Gorges” area at the south end of Upper Clearwater might be a compromise solution to a controversy that could potentially divide this community.
MLA Terry Lake will tour the Upper Clearwater on June 28 to learn more about the controversy.
Here are a few questions that we would like answered while he is here:
Why is the first stop on the tour to be the viewpoint at Spahats?
None of the proposed cut-blocks in the Three Gorges area would be visible from that location.
Is it because the real objective is not just to protect the Three Gorges area, but all of the Clearwater River Valley?
If that is the case, how much volume would that take away from Canfor’s sawmill in Vavenby?
If the proposed logging in the Three Gorges area is not visible from Spahats, where would it be seen from?
According to a map released by logging opponents in 2011, nearly all the proposed logging blocks would be up on what is being called Sheep Track Bench. They would be almost invisible from the park road and from most locations in the valley.
The main exception would be salvage logging of dead pine along the park road.
Would this salvage along the park road be select logged?
Why are some Upper Clearwater residents not more concerned about a repeat of the 1926 fire?
The fire swept through the valley from south to north. A repeat would cause millions of dollars in damage and potentially trap hundreds of people in a dangerous situation – there is only one road in and out of the valley.
Several years ago, forest fuel management programs were carried out around Clearwater and Vavenby.
If I were a resident of Upper Clearwater, I’d be demanding a similar program for my community.
Priority in such a program would have to be removing the dead pine and reducing the fuel load in the Three Gorges area – the bottleneck on the park road. In other words, it would look a lot like Canfor’s proposed logging plan.
Does the Three Gorges area contain critical mountain caribou habitat?
Few would deny that habitat loss due to logging has been an important cause of the species’ decline.
On the other hand, the consensus seems to be that the most important cause of the decline is predation, especially predation of newborn calves
Earlier this year the Times carried articles about programs near Revelstoke and Chetwynd that see pregnant females corralled and protected until their calves are old enough to avoid predation. Forest companies, environmentalists and First Nations have worked together on these projects, and they work.
Mountain caribou already have a huge contiguous area of protected area in Wells Gray Park, Bowron Lakes Park and the link between, not to mention reserved habitat outside the parks (for example, near Blue River).
Adding a few more hectares might conceivably save one caribou every few years.
Adopting an active program (coordinated by the TRU research and education center) to corral and protect pregnant females and their young likely would save three or four every year.
How would such a program be paid for? Through logging non-critical habitat.
Upper Clearwater residents do have legitimate concerns about water quality following logging.
As geologist Dr. Cathie Hickson has said, the Three Gorges area is on a lava bed and has only a thin layer of soil.
It would take a geotechnical study to determine if and how logging could be done safely.
In any event, it likely would be prudent not to log the Second Canyon watershed until the culvert on the park road is replaced, preferably with bridge.
In our earlier editorial we suggested that having Wells Gray Community Forest do the logging, rather than Canfor, might be a compromise acceptable to the majority on both sides.
We continue to feel that way.