ACRD Questions Initiative

Martin Wissmath Alberni Valley Times
September 5, 2014 12:00 AM

Officials want information before asking IT to stop forestry operations

Regional district directors are undecided whether to support a request from a local environmental group to halt forestry operations north of Port Alberni.

The Watershed Forest Alliance sent a letter to the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District last month requesting support for an effort to stop forestry operations on McLaughlin Ridge, which is owned by Island Timberlands. The Forest Alliance, which was formed in Port Alberni in 2011, say they are concerned about protecting old-growth forest, wildlife habitat and drinking water in the China Creek watershed.

“As citizens of the Alberni Valley, we call on the Regional District to act on these concerns and help further watershed protection for future generations,” said Jane Morden, coordinator of the Watershed Forest Alliance, in a letter to the ACRD.

The City of Port Alberni voted unanimously last month to support the WFA’s initiative.

At the Aug. 27 ACRD meeting, regional board members did not vote likewise, but passed a motion to invite Island Timberlands to the next board meeting on Sept. 10.

The ACRD board is particularly interested in the watershed issues, notably WFA claims that forestry on McLaughlin Ridge could increase a risk of a landslide affecting China Creek, where drinking water is drawn for the city.

Cherry Creek regional director Lucas Banton said he’s concerned that the privately owned Island Timberlands property does not have the same standards of environmental precaution as Western Forest Products, which operates on Crown land.

The Watershed Forest Alliance is pushing for the provincial government to protect the 500-hectare tract of Douglas fir on McLaughlin Ridge.

Mike Kokura, regional director of Beaufort, said the watershed concern is the critical issue. He worries about saving old growth and ungulate habitat, but this must be balanced with the needs of the forestry industry.

“This whole city has grown up on logging,” Kokura said.

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