Editor, The Times:
Considering the speed with which logging scars are appearing on the hills around Clearwater, one has to ask what the place will look like, in five or 10 years.
While the Upper Clearwater controversy centers mostly around the east side of the Clearwater Valley, the very visible west side of the valley is getting its own shave, as is the front country, courtesy of Wells Gray Community Forest, right around the town of Clearwater.
Most of the comments levelled at Canfor’s activity, and proposed activity, can be applied to the rest of logging around Clearwater: impacts on soil stability, runoff, wildlife, negative impressions created in the minds of foreign visitors – tourists, of course – smoke from slash burning and an eventual decline in property values.
We’ve seen it all before in other B.C. locations. Although the mantra of big industry says that now it’s going to be different, it never is. The provincial government is supposed to be minding the store but there doesn’t appear to be any central planning authority that can answer the question of how this place will look in five years’ time.
A recent report by the Forest Practices Board says that community consultation is the area of greatest weakness in the way this industry operates. On the local level, any negative comments directed at the forest industry would, quite predictably, be met with vicious defensiveness, so intense that any compromise solution that tries to balance the lusting drive of corporations to cut down and pack off every available board-foot, with the concerns of residents becomes quite unlikely. Isn’t it time for a change?
Maybe I’m a bit of a dreamer but I’d like to believe that many of the objections to clearcut logging could be reduced or eliminated by adopting a community-based, selective logging scheme. The viewscape would be preserved, dangerous runoff could be avoided and animal habitat wouldn’t be devastated. The forest might even be improved. The uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide – responsible for climate change – would be preserved, if not increased.
Residents could express their pride, in having arrived at a common plan that preserves forestry jobs without impacting tourism, property values or anything else they hold dear.
The United Nations GeoPark application for Wells Gray would certainly be enhanced by having a sensitive and intelligent forest industry, particularly one with a wide social acceptance, operating just outside the park boundary. Many studies have stressed the need for a soft transition zone at the boundaries of parks.
If a new, compromise solution were to be realized, a moratorium would need to be applied in order to set up the planning structure and for some real consultation and involvement to take place. Is there the will for a change? The silent majority seems to be speaking out.