Letter to the editor regarding Elkford clear cutting

Over the years this pristine valley has suffered huge swaths of clear cutting forest harvest that has changed this wilderness capital.

Twenty-five years ago I bought my condo in Elkford, the ‘Wilderness Capital of British Columbia,’ as a mountain getaway for recreation purposes. What happened? Over the years this pristine valley has suffered huge swaths of clear cutting forest harvest that definitely has changed this wilderness capital! Each winter, residents and visitors are amazed at yet another clear cut area.

The most recent cut just east of Elkford townsite is one of the ugliest. Climbing the roadway to Line Creek and Fording River coal mine sites, the landscape takes on the appearance of mass destruction. Trees and shrubs have been mowed down, leaving huge piles of unwanted tree trunks that look like massive graves! Oh, if Emily Carr could comment on this mess. The Elkford viewpoint on Fording Road looks more like a World War I battleground. Gone are the wildflowers: arnica, violets, fireweed, miner’s lantern as well as raspberries, saskatoons and cow parsnip. Gone is the habitat for moose, elk, red squirrel, bear and deer. Gone are the stately lodgepole pine.

Continuing up this road, we come to the Josephine Falls, Lily/Lost Lake hiking trails … wow, what happened to our summer/winter paradise? With this winter’s clear cut, trails were wiped out and I got lost trying to find my way to Josephine Falls in February. On the May long weekend, we drove down a forestry road searching for the trails and a solo hiker/new Elkford resident approached us, totally disorientated and asked for directions back to town!

This recreational area and Josephine Falls Trail was Elkford’s most visited site. Not anymore – now the views are an appalling mess of debris! Permanent residents of Elkford must be very upset. How is it possible the B.C. forestry industry was allowed to destroy this beautiful recreational area? I understand that jobs and income are important, but surely there must be a new better way to harvest this resource? I have traveled to many countries where the forest industry is important and selective logging is a common practice. Nowhere did I see such ruthless mass destruction. Isn’t it time to change Canada’s old clear cutting techniques to better preserve this natural resource.

Recreation is very necessary in our modern stressful world. My wife and I, along with many friends/fellow residents, have enjoyed hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, quadding and snowmobiling in the Elkford area. These activities will be curtailed for the next 10 years due to the recent clear cutting. It’s too bad because that is a long time to wait. Recently, friends sold their condo because it was heartbreaking to see the devastation … what can be done before there is more clear cutting?

Richard Smith,Deerbourne condo owner, Elkford, B.C.