Revelstoke City Council has agreed to request the Minister of Forests to mediate discussions on potential logging within Mount Macpherson’s recreational area as the next step in the sensitive issue.
Next year, BC Timber Sales, a semi-autonomous arm of the B.C. provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, plans to log an area that includes trails used by the Revelstoke Nordic Club and the Revelstoke Cycling Association (RCA).
The plan has triggered passionate discussion and the creation of community group Citizens for Mount Macpherson. They have so far collected over 1,600 signatures on their online petition where they argue the tourism value of the area outweighs the economic value of the proposed logging.
“This is a very small area with a very big impact on the lives of Revelstoke citizens,” petition signee Theresa McGeragle wrote. “The land use plan for this area is out-dated due to all the changes in the town over the last fifteen years and therefore should be re-examined.”
Hers is one of hundreds of similar comments.
Revelstoke City Council does not have the power to stop the logging outside of city limits, though is acting as an intermediary between the community, logging companies and the province. At the April 14 council meeting, councillors agreed that there needs to be more discussion with all parties before logging goes ahead.
They will request the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson, to organize a meeting between the various parties to discuss a longer term planning process for the area.
Councillor Aaron Orlando said time is on our side to allow for further discussions.
“From what I understand is that there is not a lot of long term planning,” he said. “That is really at the core of what people are seeking.”
Councillors have been active in attending stakeholder meetings and communicating with the community and Councillor Connie Brothers said she has learned a lot about the issue in the past months.
“One thing I did learn — there was once, 15 years ago, a process where the ministry and the community took an active role in the logging [in] communities,” she said.
“I think we can take a leadership role to get involved in this again. We are surely not the only community that is going to be involved in this and I think it’s important to go to ministry because they’re the ones that have control in this.”
Parties involved have been careful not to degrade the conflict and Mayor Mark McKee stressed that any action should not be at the expense of the forestry industry.
“We’re saying as the community that values are higher in this area therefore it requires a higher amount of consultation with the public,” he said.
“There is important recreational issues at stake here and we want that protected as much as we want the local companies protected.”
Council also discussed exploring the option of pushing for an extension of the Revelstoke community forest into the Mount Macpherson area, but after discussion (and some difficulty with procedure), they opted to hold back on that option to see how discussions with the forest minister proceed. The plan is to have the mayor meet with the minister soon.
Secretary of the RCA Carol Prince indicated that their board has similar feelings.
“While we emphasize that we would prefer that logging is minimal in the Macpherson rec area, we recognize the delicacy of the situation,” she said.
In a letter to RCA members, they detailed discussions with BCTS.
“Our concern is that rate of cut in the area over the last two years will be a reflection of what is to come in the future and will degrade the quality of the recreational use of the area. BCTS stated that they cannot provide a longer term strategy, but did intend to continue the past practice of moderate harvesting over time.”