Time for B.C. to control private land logging
By Ian Cobb
British Columbia currently has two standards when it comes to logging.
There is Crown land logging, where the Ministry of Forests and Other Forever Changing Names controls the show through myriad tenure regulations, annual allowable cuts and copious reviews, placing the onus for good logging practises on the companies doing the work.
And there is private land logging, where a great deal of provincial government control is shelved and their good intentions and scientific roots ignored in favour of the good old maximization of profit.
That comes at the expense of many different things, from forest ecology, wildlife habitat, traditional access, waterway derangements, forest service road degradation and viewscape obliteration.
Those logging on Crown land dare not poop the bed in any of the areas noted above or the piper comes a-calling.
Private land; not so much.
And there are regional examples that paint a clearer, albeit uglier picture.
The Elk Valley is currently experiencing viewscape and other degradations in the Fernie and Elkford areas as Canwel goes about business on land it owns.
Around the turn of the century the K2 Ranch, which covered a large section of the west side of Lake Windermere, was sold by its original owner and the numbered company that bought it proceeded to power log it, creating a nasty blemish to the southwest down Lake Windermere, a prominent regional tourism draw. That draw is responsible for bringing in vastly superior volumes of money to the area and the province than the quick and dirty plundering of that ranch. (Thankfully the new owners of the property took a completely opposite tack and have done wonderful work preserving it.)
Ditto the areas in the Elk Valley.
Long-term tourism success far outweighs rapid profit for people and companies that more often than not live elsewhere.
The B.C. government has done a fairly decent job of controlling logging on Crown land. One can drive all over this province now and pass by logging operations without knowing it is happening. Many important viewscapes have been protected by science and control.
Allowing two vastly different approaches to the forest industry is only going to lead to more private land logging, or attempts to purchase Crown land for the purpose of willy-nilly profiteering. It is also categorically unfair for the companies working Crown land to be penalized for playing and paying by the rules, while other companies can have at it.
The District of Sparwood recently captured the concern expressed in a motion authorizing Mayor David Wilks to respond to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development’s consultation invitation on the Private Managed Forest Land Act. Wilks is to request on behalf of the district that the “Act require standards that are equivalent to Crown forest land regulations and that Section 21 be amended to allow local governments to regulate, but not prohibit forest management activities.”
That is a sage request. Here’s hoping the province finally wises up through this review and begins taking steps to ensure controls are put into place to more thoroughly regulate private land logging.