Logging on the riverbank just downstream from Englishman River Falls Provincial Park has some local residents calling for stronger regulation.
Biologist and Errington resident Jessica Snider said that Timberwest clear-cut forest on the southeast side of the river near two popular swimming holes, which she said was inappropriate for a river that has been listed as one of the most endangered in the province by the Outdoor Recreation Council.
“The Englishman River watershed serves as a source of drinking water for residents of the City of Parksville and provides critical habitat for many important wildlife species, including Roosevelt elk and bald eagles,” she said by e-mail.
Under the provincial Private Managed Forest Lands Act, forest companies are allowed to cut to the river’s edge, leaving a single row of trees along the banks.
Snider pointed to the difference for private landowners in the Regional District of Nanaimo, who are required to leave a 30 metre buffer along watercourses on their property.
“We’d never get away with that. Why does the province exempt these large forest companies from having to leave a protective buffer along the river?” she said. “These laws are criminal.”
In 2009, after then Parksville councillor Chris Burger stumbled on helicopter logging of an island within the river, the city officially expressed opposition to the logging and urged the provincial government to halt it.
The Union of B.C. Municipalities later passed Parksville’s resolution to ask the government to review their regulations and adopt stricter rules for logging close to waterways.
Snider and other residents suggest people contact MLAs Scott Fraser and Michelle Stilwell with any concerns about logging along the river.
Calls to Timberwest for comment Monday morning before press deadline were unsuccessful.