Here is a possible compromise solution to the Upper Clearwater logging controversy.
Canfor-Vavenby should give up its logging rights in the west slope of Trophy Mountain and transfer them to Wells Gray Community Forest.
Quite a few years ago, Weyerhaeuser had meeting after meeting after meeting with residents of East Blackpool about logging. They went for years.
Today, the community forest is logging in that same area and we haven’t received a single letter to the editor about it.
Perhaps the community forest isn’t working in contentious areas and perhaps the more argumentative types on both sides have moved on.
A more likely explanation for the lack of contention is trust. The people of East Blackpool trust those involved with the community forest more than they do those who work for a major forest corporation.
A community forest has a different set of objectives than those of a major corporation.
The first objective of a community forest is to help the community. If you spoil the community’s watershed by cutting corners, you haven’t achieved your objective, even if you make a little extra money to later distribute as grants.
Why not just make the area of concern near the Upper Clearwater part of the park, and preserve the forest forever?
Well, “forever” is a very big word. In this part of the world, if left to its natural cycles, every forest eventually burns.
In 1926 a fire that started near Spahats swept north and destroyed much of what is now called Upper Clearwater.
Today, that forest is regenerating. The trees are getting bigger, and the deadfall and undergrowth are accumulating. Eventually, if it is not logged, it will burn again (and this is not to say that areas that have been logged can’t burn as well – they can, but there is that much less fuel for the fire).
Another factor to consider is funding. In a talk she gave Saturday evening as part of the Infocenter’s grand re-opening, geologist Dr. Cathie Hickson described a network of trails on the west slope of Trophy Mountain that would allow access to the various volcanic features of the area.
Where would the money come to build and maintain those trails?
BC Parks doesn’t have adequate funding to maintain the trails it already has in Wells Gray Park, much less take on new ones.
If the west slope of the Trophies was part of Wells Gray Community Forest, then at least part of the trail network could be constructed during logging.
Building the rest of the trails, and then maintaining the network, could be done, in part, with grants from the community forest.
Wells Gray Community Forest already has plans to apply to the provincial government for additional tenure area.
That additional tenure area should include the west slope of the Trophies – the main item in the Upper Clearwater logging debate.
As with all compromises, everybody would not get everything he or she wants.
It would, however, help to solve a controversy that could potentially be damaging to this community.