Report from the APOA Forestry Committee

Posted by: Johnny Smoke  /  Category: Archived Posts

In British Columbia the timber harvesting activities of those licensed to perform industrial-scale logging in a recreation area:

…should be compatible with recreational values… Maintain a naturally appearing landscape, both foreground and viewscapes, that is compatible with the recreational value…

– from the Okanagan-Shuswap Land and Resource Management Plan

In general, the BC Ministry of Lands, Forests, and Natural Resources no longer performs detailed local inspections and oversight, so from a local stakeholders’ perspective much of the forestry industry is essentially self-regulating.

In practice this means that local stakeholder consultation and oversight is essential. It ensures appropriate, recreation-compatible timber harvesting practices are followed. In a recreation area such as Apex, stakeholders include property owners, local businesses, First Nations, and recreation users in general.

However, local stakeholders have been overwhelmed by:

  • multiple, geographically overlapping harvest license holders, each with their own forest practices and harvest plans;
  • no definitive, long-term strategy to integrate forestry and recreation in the Apex Recreation Area;
  • no organization or government body tasked with creating and overseeing a long-term strategy;
  • ad hoc or non-existent consultation between local stakeholders and the individual license holders;
  • new participants entering the forestry industry, specifically BC Timber Sales and First Nations license holders;
  • a bewildering array of broadly worded regulations and guidelines, many of which are acknowledged to be “subject to interpretation”; and
  • a seemingly ubiquitous industry panic over the Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak, leading to what appears to be a “harvest now, plan later” mentality.

The Apex Recreation Area is experiencing an unprecedented level of timber harvesting. In particular, clear-cut logging in the Keremeos Creek Valley at the foot of Apex Resort has surprised many Apex residents and recreation users.

In 2010 a new harvest license holder began operating in the Apex area: the Penticton Indian Band’s Sn’pink’tn Forestry. Sn’pink’tn is partnered with Gorman Brother and is currently licensed to harvest over 47,000 m3 of timber. That is approximately 1200 logging trucks worth. The ongoing harvesting of the Keremeos Creek Valley and the Shatford Creek Valley is being done under those licenses.

In December 2012 the APOA Board of Directors created the APOA Forestry Committee to investigate and report on the timber harvesting occurring in our area. The committee discovered that harvesting is planned in areas considered integral to maintaining a quality recreation experience:

  • the western flank of Mt. Riordan to the edge of Nickel Plate Lake,
  • the upper Keremeos Creek valley north of Whitetail Road (an area spanning both sides of Nickel Plate Road north of the village), and
  • the backside of Beaconsfield Mountain, running down to the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.

We say “discovered” because these harvest plans were found on Gorman Brother’s website when the committee was investigating the source of road and cut-block demarcation flagging on Mt. Riordan. Further investigation revealed there has been no substantive local stakeholder consultation concerning these new cut blocks, a situation we are actively seeking to address.

The 2016 BC Winter Games are coming to Apex Mountain Resort and Nickel Plate Nordic Centre. This is an opportunity to showcase the beauty and diverse recreation opportunities offered by the Apex Recreation Area – a goal many argue is incompatible with existing logging practices and plans.

The good news is that local consultation is not optional, especially in an “Intensive Recreation Area”, which is how the Apex-Nickel Plate area is classified. To restate what has already been said: local stakeholders have both the responsibility and the right to be consulted AND listened to; it is how forestry in BC is intended to operate.

At the March 9 APOA Annual General Meeting (2 PM at the hotel) the forestry committee will publicly present its initial report. We will describe:

  • How we got to where we are today.
  • What is currently planned by the key harvest license holders.
  • The steps needed to ensure the integrity of the Apex Recreation Area is maintained for future generations.

How important are our forests to your lifestyle and recreation activities?

Hope to see you on March 9!

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