Island Timberlands, the company engaged in timber harvest in Lot 450, is not planning to hold any public forums to discuss its activities on its private managed forest land (PMFL), but citizens concerned about the logging are stepping up their efforts.
Sierra Malaspina, the local Sierra Club BC chapter, wrote to the forestry company late April after harvesting began on the urban forest. The group asked Island Timberlands to temporarily pause its harvest to give the wider community an opportunity to provide input and raise its concerns with the company around possible loss of bird and wildlife habitat between McFall and McGuffie creeks and loss of valued trails.
“The citizens of Powell River expect Island Timberland to immediately stop logging in Lot 450,” said Wes Bingham an executive with the local group in a Sierra Club BC media release. “This is an area that people call home. The company should follow its policy, share detailed information about their plans, hear our concerns and seek to address them.”
Morgan Kennah, manager of sustainable timberlands and community affairs for Island Timberlands, responded by saying “[the company] is not considering hosting a public forum to discuss the details of our activities on our private forest lands at this time. Unfortunately we do not share reports and plans of our activities widely with the general public.”
“The conflict with Island Timberlands in Powell River shows the serious problems caused by lack of meaningful regulation for logging on private land,” said Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “Communities are experiencing fewer and fewer benefits and more and more negative impacts, from loss of clean water to the loss of tourism opportunities.”
In response to criticism that the City of Powell River was not doing enough to hold the forest company accountable to the community, it released a fact sheet to provide clarification on the tree harvest, Monday, May 11.
The fact sheet states that the harvest is occurring on Island Timberlands’ PMFL, which is regulated by the provincial government, and that the city “does not have the authority to require the production of records, cannot enter onto PMFL property for the purposes of inspection of the PMFL Act, Wildlife Act or critical wildlife habitat, nor can city council issue stop work orders.”
PMFL is governed by the Managed Forest Council and subject to the Private Managed Forest Land Act and regulations. Those are provincial government statutes and jurisdiction, the statement read.
The clarification goes on to explain that Island Timberlands has a timber reservation agreement to harvest the timber on two properties within Lot 450 owned by PRSC Land Developments Ltd.
While the city is a part owner in the land development partnership, the statement asks the public to contact PRSC managers for more firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, May 15, biologist Andrew Bryant took Councillor Rob Southcott on a tour of the Lot 450 PMFL. Bryant has been instrumental in helping find active bird nests in the area. As of Monday, May 18, he had documented and reported 30 active nesting sites to Island Timberlands.
Finding active nesting sites takes patience. Bryant can watch a nest for hours on various visits to determine activity. He pointed to a snag, perhaps six metres in height. Three holes are evident. Cavity nests created by woodpeckers are abundant in the area. “There has been a lot of activity,” Bryant said of the snag. “I had two northern flickers, two red-breasted nuthatches, and a red-bellied sapsucker simultaneously on that snag.”
Save Lot 450, the group responsible to organizing marches and rallies on the issue, has coordinated a picket line across one entrance to the pole line and welcomes the public to participate. Organizers have stated that this is not a blockade as Lot 450 can still be accessed near the Timberlane track and from a service road at Catalyst Paper Corporation. The picket line began Tuesday, May 19, and continues 9 am to 7 pm to Friday, May 22, on Joyce Avenue at the pole line.