There are concerns about logging impacting trails and habitat in Fernie. Photo taken on Coal Creek Road. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

UPDATE: Fernie to host logging meeting on Feb. 7

Public forum to address concerns about logging on private land in the Elk Valley

UPDATE: A public forum on private land logging will be held in Fernie on Thursday, February 7.

Wildsight has confirmed the date and location for the event, which comes amid community concern about clear-cutting in the Elk Valley and its impact on trails, and the environment.

The conservation group will host the forum at the Best Western Plus Fernie Mountain Lodge from 7-9 p.m. Thursday.

“You’ll have a chance to learn why the Elk Valley is unique, with a third of the landscape in private hands and one eighth private forest owned by CanWel, and why logging in private forests barely has to follow any rules at all,” reads the Facebook event description.

“Come share your views with the community and learn how we can work together for more community control of our landscape, including Ridgemont and much more.”

RSVP here.

Previously The Free Press reported:

Fernie community groups are expected to call a crisis meeting later this week amid growing concern about logging in the Elk Valley.

Forestry company CanWel owns approximately 55,000ha of land in the Elk Valley and has been logging in the area for some time.

However, groups such as Wildsight and the Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) are becoming increasingly concerned about CanWel’s encroachment on wildlife habitat and trails.

FTA Board Chair Krista Turcasso and Wildsight Elk Valley Conservation Coordinator Randal Macnair attended Monday’s regular meeting of council, where they called on the City and community to act.

Wildsight is preparing to announce an open house with stakeholder groups, elected officials and community members to address what is being described as a “crisis”.

“This has been happening for some time in different parts of the Valley and now it’s right literally in our backyard,” Macnair told The Free Press.

“Nobody is saying we don’t want logging but we want to ensure that the various values on the land are respected and if you look at the clearcut just north of town, that’s not happening.

“That’s a steep slope, it’s been completely denuded and there’s lots of potential problems with that in the short term, and the long term.”

CanWel has been keeping the FTA informed of its harvesting activities, where trails may be affected. However, the group has noticed an increase in logging notifications this fall and winter.

The FTA is a not-for-profit organization that represents member clubs including the Fernie Mountain Bike Club, Fernie Nordic Society, Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club, Stag Leap Co. and Island Lake Lodge.

It relies on grant funding, donations and volunteers to build and maintain Fernie’s vast network of trails.

On January 25, the FTA was advised by CanWel that harvesting would soon begin on the block where the Dirt Diggler, Three Kings, Dopamine and Smooth Salamander trails are located.

“Communications on future plans is something we really hope to work on with this company to ensure we can plan accordingly,” said Turcasso.

Turcasso recognized that as a private company operating on private land, CanWel is not obligated to communicate its plans with the FTA.

She hopes to maintain the FTA’s relationship with CanWel, while advocating for changes to provincial logging regulations.

The Elk Valley is in a unique situation because the logging is occurring on private land, whereas 95 per cent of the province’s timber is publicly owned.

Across most of B.C., the provincial government authorizes forest tenures, which grant the rights to the timber and outlines the conditions under which it is harvested from Crown land.

Timber harvested on private land has its own set of rules, regulations and practices.

These are laid out in the Private Managed Forest Land Act, which aims to protect both property owners’ rights and the environment.

Wildsight has previously raised concerns about CanWel logging in environmentally-sensitive areas near Elkford and its lack of consultation with the conservation group compared to its predecessor.

CanWel is a Vancouver-based company and one of Canada’s largest national distributors in the building materials and related products sector.

In May 2016, it took over Jemi Fibre, a forest products company that operates primarily in B.C. and Saskatchewan.

At the time of sale, Jemi owned approximately 136,000 acres (55,037ha) of private timberlands, strategic Crown licenses and tenures, log harvesting and trucking operations, several post and pole peeling facilities, two pressure-treated specialty wood production plants, and one specialty sawmill.

Macnair said CanWel will be invited to present at the open house and directly communicate its plans with the community.

He hopes to hold the meeting in early February and expects to announce details later this week.

“There’s an immediacy to this and I think it’s an opportunity to raise a flag to the Province to say ‘hey, we have various values’ and, as I stated to council, the Minister is the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development,” said Macnair.

“We’re a community that’s trying to diversify our economy, so we have mining, forestry and recreation, and we’re succeeding in that. We need the balance on the landscape to ensure that our economy and community thrives.”

More updates on the open house will be posted at Thefreepress.ca.

Those with concerns about logging can contact randal@wildsight.ca.

 

On January 26, Fernie Trails Alliance advised trail users of the latest closure. Source: Facebook

Just Posted

Vehicle stolen from downtown Fernie found torched at transfer station

RCMP are seeking witnesses to the theft of a yellow 2002 Subaru… Continue reading

Rossland council urges minister to kill Jumbo Glacier Resort project

Mayor writes letter panning ski resort on environmental, legal, and economic grounds

Stranded hikers rescued from Mt. Hosmer

On Monday, Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) responded to two hikers stranded… Continue reading

Teck’s water treatment facility on track for 2020 completion

Teck is on schedule for late 2020 for the completion of their… Continue reading

Barry Marchi’s spirits high as treatment in Seattle continues

Barry Marchi’s spirits are high as he continues treatment in the United… Continue reading

River rescue near Fernie prompts log jam warning

The City of Fernie announced at the beginning of August a dangerous… Continue reading

Black Pistol Fire ignites Wapiti festival crowd

Off stage, Kevin McKeown is a calm, collected individual. On stage, he… Continue reading

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Most Read