There won’t be a new land-use plan or a moratorium on logging on Mount Macpherson, says Steve Thomson, the Minister of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations.
I spoke to Thomson Monday morning after reading his response to a request by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District asking for more public consultation on logging Macpherson. (You can read the letter at the end of this article.)
In his letter, Thomson expressed support for the land-use plans and consultation processes in place. The letter made no mention of the online petition that asked for a moratorium on logging and a new land-use plan.
It also made no mention of a recent request by Revelstoke city council to develop a new land-use plan for Mount Macpherson.
Here is the transcript of my interview with Thomson.
Alex Cooper: What kind of discussions have you had regarding the Macpherson logging issue?
Minister Steve Thomson: “First of all I appreciate the concerns of council and local residents. People have brought those concerns forward to the ministry. I’ve had discussions with local government. I’ve had discussions with the local MLA on this issue. I’m certainly aware of the concerns and issues that are being raised.”
Is there any movement within the ministry of re-opening land-use plan?
“We believe there’s been a robust consultation process on this in terms of the concerns. Timber Sales (BCTS) have met with the community. They’ve had the City of Revelstoke stakeholder meetings. They’ve got a representative in those stakeholder meetings. They’ve met with the clubs, providing community presentations. There’s going to be on-site meetings with the stakeholders in the fall to review the development. Referral notices have gone out.
“We believe there’s a robust process in place that is working to address the concerns and under no circumstances will the cross-country ski and mountain bike trails be affected by the proposed development other than some alterations to the visual landscape.
“I know that BCTS has committed to continue to work with the stakeholders to maintain and enhance the existing trails. Again, work very closely with the cycling club and the ski club.
There was an online petition asking for a moratorium on logging until a new land-use plan is developed that got well over 1,000 signatures. Is it being considered?
“This area is part of the working forest. It’s been logged previously. We understand the concerns and that’s why BCTS is going through a very rigorous consultation process and there will be, as I said, on-site meetings in the fall to review development to date, with harvesting plans finalized in the fall. The intent is to issue timber sales opportunities in 2016, but again lots of consultation will take place before then.”
Is the request for a moratorium being considered?
“No. As I said, it’s part of the working forest. It is important that BCTS consult and work with all the stakeholder groups, which is what they’re doing.”
The Revelstoke Higher Level Plan was created in the late-90s. Given the development of Revelstoke as a resort community and the development of the Macpherson area as a recreation zone since then, would it not be appropriate to update the land-use plan?
“It is part of the working forest. We need to find those opportunities but we need to do them in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the operations. That’s why we said the cross-country ski, the mountain bike trails won’t be affected by the proposed development other than alterations to the visual landscape. We think that with continued engagement and continued recognition of the concerns that we can provide both the economic opportunity and continue to ensure the recreation values are maintained.”