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June 2012 Update

June 13, 2012

On May 31, IT showed us their new logging plans. The changes were in the right direction, but so minor: two road segments moved out of wetlands, and logging of an old growth stand deferred. We encouraged further changes toward an approach that would enable forest ecosystems to continue. IT is considering those requests and will present their new plans to the Cortes community on June 19.

Our requests to Island Timberlands relate directly to the petition demands that received 6,800 signatures:

Retain all remnants of old growth forest:

The Coast Information Team states that retaining 70% of forest ecosystems is likely to keep them healthy, while retaining only 30% puts them at high risk. With less than 10% of the original old growth, everything must be kept.  Cortes has less than 10%. Everything must be kept.

IT excludes trees under 250 years and individual trees from its definition of “old growth forest.” It also excludes original forests with open canopies because there are not enough old growth trees to make it an old growth forest.

In the negotiations we advocated for a definition of old growth forests that accords with what old growth dependent species require, such as the marbled murrelet. The marbled murrelet is an ocean going bird that nests on the branches of trees that are 150 years and older. It is endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act and parts of Cortes Island are designated as marbled murrelet habitat by the Province of BC.

Our request: Retain all forests with trees over 150 years because the marbled murrelet, listed as “endangered” in the federal Species At Risk Act, depends upon such old growth ecosystems according to the Province of BC;

 Protect all watersheds and salmonid habitat and maintain natural water flow and quality

The Coast Information Team requires stream buffers of 100-200 meters on each side of streams and wetlands to protect water flow and habitat.

IT has a ten to fifteen meter buffer which allows some trees to be taken from within the buffer zone. Its definition of wetlands excludes many “wet areas” because they are not large. Smaller wetlands do not show up on IT’s maps.

Our request: Create a no cut zone buffer of at least 100 meters around streams, wet lands and wet areas.

Respect all the principles and goals of the BC Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory

We provided IT with SEI maps, but they were not reflected by any changes to the logging plans, except for two minor road changes to avoid going directly through wet lands.

Our request:  Respect the maps and purposes of the Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory to ensure the continued integrity of rare and fragile terrestrial ecosystems.

Ban use of clearcut logging methods

The Coast Information Team states retention of 70% forest cover will allow forest ecosystems to continue to thrive. Even this is a far cry from Herb Hammond’s definition of ecoforestry which  the Island has relied on in past planning:  less than half of the annual incremental growth, which allows forests to continue developing old growth characteristics.

IT’s doesn’t view  any of its logging methods as clear cutting. The plans show retention of scattered trees within the cut blocks. IT won’t reveal percentage of retention that represents because it doesn’t want to be held to numbers. Without that number, we don’t know what the plans mean. In addition, the age and species mix of the retained trees was not apparent. IT stated that that 70% retention was not acceptable. But that is what the best science says is necessary to maintain ecosystem integrity.

Our request:  Retain a minimum of 70% forest ecosystems of mixed species and age classes

Purchase

If IT can’t meet these requests, our best option would be to work toward purchase. IT has never favoured this idea. In the meeting Bill Waugh, the Director of Forestry and Planning, stated that IT would be a reluctant seller and would sell to the highest bidder, even if that was Mike Jenks. The “Mike Jenks” card is as ugly as it gets. He’s the cut and run logger responsible for the clear cut at the Seaford Y and above Lewis Channel. To his credit, Mr. Waugh also provided some helpful information regarding how we could begin to value these lands and he sent a template confidentiality agreement to an island group that will coordinate the purchase efforts.

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