An old-growth red cedar tree on the banks of the McKelvie Creek. Photo, Ramsey Dyer

Environmentalists want old growth on west coast of Island protected

Forest company says it has delayed plans a year to listen to local concerns

Environmentalists are hoping to halt proposed logging of old-growth forest slated for the northwest coast of Vancouver Island.

Recently, the Ancient Forest Alliance enlisted the support of the local council from Tahsis in efforts to protect the McKelvie Valley.

The valley extends from Tahsis to the base of Mount McKelvie. According to the news release from the Ancient Forest Alliance, the area features endangered ancient forest, rich wildlife habitat and McKelvie Creek, which serves as a salmon spawning ground and source of drinking water for the community.

“The McKelvie is an exceptionally significant ancient forest given that it is an entire intact valley in a region where virtually all valleys have now been fragmented and tattered by logging” Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness said in the release.

“As such, its value for wildlife, water, fisheries, tourism, recreation, and the climate are exceptional. Most controversies over old-growth logging today involve significant patches and groves of ancient forest, but we’re talking about an entire intact watershed here.”

The McKelvie Creek watershed lies within Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 19, the licence for which was acquired by Western Forest Products’ (WFP) predecessor in December 1997. According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the TFL covers 170,713 hectares, with 138,350 hectares considered productive forest and 75,958, or about 55 per cent, available for timber harvesting. In addition, the ministry says more than 23,000 hectares are designated as old growth management areas or wildlife habitat areas.

The Ancient Forest Alliance says the McKelvie watershed, which is 2,170 hectares, is the last regional stronghold for the threatened marbled murrelet sea bird population, while McKelvie Creek provides a habitat for fish such as chum and coho salmon, cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden. They are concerned proposed road-building and logging in TFL 19 will increase runoff and increase the severity of debris slides and flooding, which could affect species’ habitat as well as water quality. In response, the Tahsis Village Council passed a resolution in June opposing all forms of resource extraction, including logging.

In response, WFP says it relies on industry-leading forest management standards and employs professional foresters and other qualified professionals, such as biologists, hydrologists and geoscientists, to develop and implement plans that meet or exceed the B.C. government standards.

“Our professionals develop forest stewardship plans that show how we are meeting the objectives set by the government for old growth preservation, soils, timber, wildlife, water, fish, biodiversity, visual landscapes and First Nations cultural heritage resources,” WFP Senior Communications Director Babita Khunkhun told the Mirror in an email.

The company also says it voluntarily submits to having all of its forest tenures independently certified to internationally recognized standards for sustainable forest management.

As far as why WFP is harvesting old growth, Khunkhun continued, saying, “Wood is a renewable resource and the most sustainable building material on the planet. Vast areas of forests are retained, including old growth management areas and other types of reserves. In addition, Western has policies in place, including a big tree protection policy, to ensure we maintain unique features across the land base.”

The company said it has consulted with the Tahsis council this past year and will continue to engage with them on this issue, adding it has delayed plans for at least a year to provide more time to better understand local concerns and consider these as part of forest management in the McKelvie Valley.

 

An old-growth Douglas fir tree on the slopes of the McKelvie Valley. Photo by Martin Davis

Just Posted

Leap year Vancouver Island retiree finally celebrating 15th birthday

Ray Miller among the 0.07% of the population to have Feb. 29 as a birthday

Popular TV series ‘Chesapeake Shores’ renewed for season five

Hallmark Channel show to return to filming in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Water is a complicated issue in the District of Sooke

A hodge podge of systems still exist and some people have to haul in water

EDITORIAL: Time for an end to blockades

Holding the economy hostage a poor way to achieve reconciliation

Area officials call for urgent response to Bamfield Road issues

Alberni Clayoquot Regional District board writes to premier in wake of winter storm road washout

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Beethoven 250: Victoria getting ready to celebrate

Victoria Symphony to play all nine of the composer’s symphonies during March birthday celebrations

Get ready to hear a Mighty roar in Victoria

Polaris Prize-winning rapper and hip hop artist Haviah Mighty plays the Capital Ballroom March 1

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Nanaimo drag queen Rick Meyers receives Victoria drag group’s highest honour

Queen City Sisterhood to bestow ‘sainthood’ upon ‘the divine’ Vicki Smudge

Most Read