Submitted by Eddie Petryshen, Conservation Coordinator, Wildsight
A recent letter from former Fernie mayor Mary Guiliano suggested that there was some kind of deal between Wildsight and Jemi Fibre for the use of Jemi lands. Wildsight never had any such an agreement or deal with Jemi and we’ve never discussed one.
Since these lands were sold to Jemi Fibre four years ago, Wildsight has spent hundreds of days working on private land forestry with Jemi Fibre, Canfor, CanWel, local residents and other groups to ensure that connectivity, riparian buffers and wildlife patches are included in logging plans.
We have pored over maps, checked cutblock layout and prescriptions on the ground, and met with foresters, biologists and others in an attempt to preserve mature forest cover for wintering ungulates, ensure riparian buffers that prevent sedimentation and damage to streams, and maintain basic wildlife connectivity across the landscape.
Unfortunately, while we’ve had successes in specific locations, we haven’t been able to stem the tide of unsustainable logging in the Elk Valley.
Meanwhile, we’ve been working to persuade the provincial government to change private managed forest regulations. Our work is in line with the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ message to the provincial government to improve private land logging regulations, including two resolutions passed last year.
Unfortunately, the situation has only continued to get worse. Over the last four years, we have watched the Elk Valley landscape change rapidly.
Areas like Sulphur Springs, south of Elkford, have been nearly completed logged, with little mature cover left in an area that was historically some of the best feeding grounds for wintering ungulates. Movement corridors like Coal Creek Pass and the Martin Ridge area have become a mess of roads and new cutblocks.
LOOK BACK: Logging concerns after company sale
We are watching an unprecedented liquidation in private managed forests in the Elk Valley. Negotiated improvements to logging plans are clearly not enough.
Though the provincial government has yet to commit to updating the Private Managed Forest Land Act to address community and wildlife concerns, a provincial audit of the Act has recently been announced.
Now is the time for our communities to demand Forests Minister Doug Donaldson update the Act to include meaningful environmental regulation and community input on large parcels of managed private forest land.
Let’s work together to get these regulations changed so that our community has more control over nearby logging and our environment is better protected. Everyone is welcome to the public forum we are hosting at the Best Western at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 7.
LOOK BACK: Fernie to host logging meeting on Feb. 7