Upper Clearwater residents might disagree about the Upper Clearwater Hall but they seem to be more in agreement about their unhappiness with Canfor’s plans to log in the area.
More than 30 residents of the area met in the Black Horse Saloon at Wells Gray Ranch on Friday evening, May 27, to talk about the forest company’s plans.
Nearly all of them signed forms indicating that they did not think Canfor’s logging plans respect Upper Clearwater’s guiding principles document, which had been negotiated with the forests ministry several years ago.
Mike Mueller seemed to reflect the thinking of many of those present, saying that while area residents should respect the forest industry for all that it has done for the local economy, the forest industry also needs to respect tourism.
Mueller was particularly concerned about how visible the proposed cut-blocks might be from the road to Wells Gray Park.
“How is their plan in that direction?” he asked.
Tay Briggs, a member of the Upper Clearwater referral group that organized the meeting, responded by saying there are six levels of visual quality protection.
At level one, an untrained person would not be able to see that an area had been logged.
The logging in Upper Clearwater would be “partial retention”, which is in the middle of the six levels, she said.
“It would not be a bare clear-cut, but you’re going to see it,” she said.
Water was also a concern for many of those present.
Logging began in the Trophy Mountains in the 1970s, said Trevor Goward, who chaired the meeting for the referral group.
This was followed over the next 20 to 30 years by a series of washouts, including First Canyon and Spahats, that cost taxpayers about $6 million to repair.
There are 23 mapped creeks within the proposed logging area, Goward said, and they contain 43 to 46 water licenses.
The forest company hired a hydrologist to look at the situation. Goward acknowledged that he is one of the best in B.C. and that he walked the whole area of interest.
However, the hydrologist still did not have the intimate knowledge of the area that some local residents have, Goward felt.
The referral group member also acknowledged that, after some earlier difficulties, staff from Canfor have proven to be reasonable to work with.
The hydrologist also did not take into account the effect of climate change, Goward said.
“Tomorrow is next going to be the same as yesterday,” he said.
According to an information package sent out before the meeting, the guiding principles document was the outcome of the Upper Clearwater public input process, which began in 1998 and concluded in 2000.
The process was the result of proposals to establish woodlots in Upper Clearwater.
The referral group was set up to help mediate the guiding principles.