Public Concern over Wedge 02 Spring 2017 Harvesting
A letter was received by Whistler Council on March 7, 2017 regarding the forest harvesting taking place in the Wedge area north of Whistler. Concerns were expressed over visual impacts, a perceived lack of public information sharing, potential negative impacts to the Comfortably Numb bike trail, and logging old growth. The CCF Board takes such concerns seriously and provides the following information:
Addressing the current issues raised about Wedge 02 harvesting
- All planning was referred to the community through open houses and website and directly to stakeholders and the RMOW Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee (FWAC). WORCA has a seat on FWAC.
- Wedge-02 logging will not be visible from Alpine, Wedge Estates, Rainbow and most of Emerald sub divisions. Its visibility will be obscured by the oblique viewing angles, dispersed openings and the level of internal green tree retention.
- It is not solely Whistler’s forest, rather it is a community forest tenure surrounding Whistler.
- Clear cutting is not practiced anywhere in the forest and the planned project will not result in a “viewscape of logging”.
- Access Planning considers the impact of roads and those with unintended consequences are to be fully deactivated and reforested.
- No cutting is planned across Comfortably Numb with only a temporary access road crossing Jeff’s exit trail. Cutting is limited to only one side of the trail, using a feathering technique to retain other trees beside the trail.
- As part of the field planning for this project, 114 ha of old forest was identified for protection for the Comfortably Numb Trail and Wildlife values between the park boundary and the BC Hydro transmission line.
Wedge -02 Compartment Background Information
- Wedge 02 was partially logged during the 1940-50’s Parkhurst era with logs moved to the Soo Valley Lumber mill beside the railway. Pole cutting of cedar and white pine was done extensively throughout the area that is the Comfortably Numb Bike Trail.
- The Wedge 02 project was initially planned and referred in the winter of 2013, with subsequent revisions made through 2015-16 to address an identified raptor nest site and for the process of old forest protection.
- The small scale retention logging project will meet the partial retention visual quality objective set for the area and will be only visible from the very northern end of Green Lake. (Partial Retention def. – easy to see, small to medium in scale and natural, not rectilinear or geometric in shape). The blocks should actually result in a minimal visual impact in the low range of what is acceptable for the Partial Retention Visual Quality Objective.
- Lil’wat Forestry LP started development in the fall of 2013, logging 4ha in October.
- In 2015, a $125,000 bridge project was undertaken to repair storm damage from the previous fall. In addition to providing access for forestry purposes, this access reconnects the Sea to Sky Trail and Green Lake recreation loop as well as providing access to the hydro line and cell tower.
- The current logging project includes 6 openings ranging in size from 0.6 to 4.1 hectares. (for reference, Lost Lake is 14 ha in size)
- All access roads are constructed and the CCF has committed to fully decommissioning the road near the Comfortably Numb Trail in order to retain the “remoteness” feature.
- Approximately 70 trees per hectare will be retained as single trees or small groups or patches.
- The Cheakamus Community Forest is a three-way equal partnership between the Squamish Nation, Lil’wat Nation and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
- The area of the CCF is shared territory between both the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations.
- First Nations have expanded their capacity in forest management and operate successful businesses, including the CCF, within the Sea to Sky region.
- Each First Nation partner provided additional logging quota at their own cost into the CCF Society partnership to expand the total area of the CCF tenure. The additional quota allowed the CCF to be more than doubled in size so that more forested area could be managed by the CCF as opposed to the industrial forest managers that historically operated in the area. If the forest was managed by anyone other than the CCF, the harvest could be up to 50,000m3.
- The CCF management of the forest involves a reduction in harvesting of almost 60% from historical levels.
- All annual projects are divided equally between the First Nation business arms, with Lil’wat Forestry Ventures LP representing the Lil’wat Nation and Sqomish Forestry LP representing the Squamish Nation.
- The annual contribution of the CCF harvesting activities contributes upwards of $2,100,000 in direct economic activity into the Sea to Sky region.
- The CCF Carbon Project, the first of its kind on crown land in British Columbia is contingent upon the terms and conditions of the Forest Tenure which includes the accounting of carbon pools both in the storage and recovery of wood products.
- It should be noted that these are not solely Whistler or the Crown’s trees but are subject to pre-existing Aboriginal title and rights of which the ability to create economic opportunity is one right.
Ecosystem Based Management (EBM)
- In 2015, through an integrated management planning process including participation from AWARE, WORCA, commercial and public recreation groups, 3,841 ha of the largest contiguous parcels of forest were voluntarily protected with set objectives for its Conservation or Recreation priority. http://www.cheakamuscommunityforest.com/maps-and-harvesting-plans/
- A further 9,865 ha of Old Forest has been legally protected as Old Growth Management Areas [OGMA] through government orders in the CCF. On a percentage basis, this is almost double the amount of old growth protected as compared to other management units in the Sea to Sky Natural Resource District.
- Within the CCF a total of 13,706 ha or 46% of the forested land is now considered protected across all forested ecosystems.
- Only 24% of the entire 33,018 ha CCF land base is available for practicing sustainable forestry.
- Approximately 78% of the forests within the 94,000 ha Whistler Landscape Unit (sub regional planning area that includes parts of Garibaldi Park and Callaghan Lake Park, as well as all of the CCF) are primary old growth and mature forests (63% and 15% respectively). The CCF is the only forest manager within this area.
- The BC Government has agreed to the reduction in annual harvest within the CCF so that the principles of Ecosystem Based Management could be applied to the forest. The portion of the forest that is not being harvested is used to generate carbon credits.
- Clear cutting is not used as a harvest method in the CCF. Rather the CCF harvests using its Ecosystem Based Management principles which allow sustainable harvesting at a small scale with openings ranging from 0.5 – 5 hectares in size, and 5-30% of the trees retained within each opening. For comparison, the area cleared for the Rainbow Subdivision is approximately 40 hectares. To date over 100 openings have been harvested since 2009 averaging less than 2.0 ha in size.