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February 22 Meeting with Island Timberlands

February 23, 2012

This letter from Carrie and Tzeporah follows yesterday’s meeting with Island Timberlands:

Dear petitioners,

Today we had our second meeting with IT, an opportunity that resulted from your strong response to the petition. We attended to pursue the petition demands. Because a majority of island residents have largely similar demands, also in attendance were Regional Director Noba Anderson and David Shipway and Sabina Leader Mense. Both David and Sabina possess extensive knowledge of island maps and ecosystems. Geza Vamos, RPF, lent the the perspective of a professional forester to our advocacy for Cortes forests. Island Timberland representatives were Bill Waugh (Director of Operations), Morgan Kennah (Manager of Community Affairs) and Wayne French (Operations Planner for Cortes Island).

At the meeting, IT shared their detailed plans and provided copies to share with community members (yahoo!). People will now be able to more fully understand what the current operational plans would look like on the ground. These maps cover Basil Creek near Squirrel Cove, the Delight watershed near Blue Jay Lake and upland of the Gorge Harbour.

We were very concerned to find that their plans included logging of rare fragments of old growth forests. We know that many of you have heard from Island Timberlands that their “harvesting plans are designed to retain [old growth] to the maximum extent possible,” However, they showed cut blocks with outlines that were identical to the outlines of the old growth forests patches on government maps of old growth ecosystems that are critical habitat for the endangered marbled murrelet. We learned that they defined old growth as only trees over 250 years and they planned to preserve individual trees while logging the rest of the forest around them. Our definition of old growth is older than 140 years and based on government maps of endangered marbled murrelet habitat on Cortes Island.

We were also concerned to see how little riparian and wetland protection they had in their plans. IT’s current draft plans have some streams with no riparian buffer zones and in cases of fish bearing streams have 10 to 15 meters from either side of the stream. The Coast Information Team developed standards for ecosystem based forestry that are being used on the coast in the Great Bear Rainforest. These require the protection all old growth in ecosystems that hold less than 30% of the original forest and require 100-200 meter protection around streams depending on the classification. We requested that IT consider applying these standards, which are based on the best available science, to Cortes Island. The fact is, in the last month site visits on Cortes Island by foresters and ecologists have confirmed old growth forests within those cut blocks that are provincially significant and rare.

We hope that by identifying these concerns and providing IT with information and local knowledge that they will adapt their plans. To that end, we committed to provide IT with as much local and ecological data as possible. We noticed on their maps that in some cases they hadn’t noted that streams were salmonid bearing and they hadn’t noted important old growth stands and sensitive ecosystems. IT agreed to integrate our information into their mapping exercise for discussion purposes.

We remain concerned that IT is planning on logging in 2012. However after discussion of all the concerns at hand, IT did agree that the earliest they would begin logging is in September. We were encouraged that there seemed to be a willingness to both adapting their plans and to considering purchase options in the future. This is because of all of our collective efforts on Cortes and beyond to keep these issues on the front burner until they’re resolved.

Moving forward, we need to keep up the pace to support those who are developing proposals for community ownership and stewardship. For our part, we will continue to keep you updated on our problem solving efforts. The next meeting with all parties present is planned for the second week in April.

With appreciation,

Tzeporah Berman and Carrie Saxifrage

* For those on the island, Regional Director Noba Anderson’s report back to the community is tonight, Thursday Feb 23 at 7pm at the Gorge Hall

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