Land use planning needs re-thinking

I am writing to you to express my concerns around Canfor-Vavenby's proposal to log several thousand hectares in the area of Upper Clearwater

Editor, The Times:

The following is an open letter to Honorable Terry Lake, MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson:

I am writing to you to express my concerns around Canfor-Vavenby’s proposal to log several thousand hectares in the area of Upper Clearwater, known as “Area G.” This area is adjacent to Wells Gray Trophy Mountain flower meadows on the east and Clearwater Valley Road on the west.

Clearwater Valley Road is the only access to Wells Gray Park, Clearwater Lake, Helmcken Falls and the upper Clearwater River basin.

Present proposed plans to log the area known as “G” (Upper Clearwater Guiding Principles Document), the area, west of Trophy Mountain Flower Meadow, Wells Gray Park and east of Clearwater Valley Road includes the area of Buck Hill (a volcanic cone). This feature is part of a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Geopark application. Proposed logging plans for this area will have, I believe, a negative impact on this application. Tourism has a vested interest in the uses of this area as well as the forest sawmilling logging industry, and so becomes the point of contention.

Tourism has in many ways just begun to show its scope as an economic engine; this has been steadily increasing for the last 40 or 50 years. We are now seeing increasing interest from international tourists. Tourism can be, by and large, a low impact sustainable means of providing good jobs to people as well as tax dollars to the government. Clear-cuts are a negative for tourism relying on natural environs.

Decisions must be made concerning this area based on “best” present and projected future use. Uses must be accessed on returns to the province and local residents. With an eye to the sustainability of these uses. Long term commitment of natural resources of any area must be systematically reviewed to assure current and sustainable viabilities.

The government must be instrumental in the ‘best use’ outcome of this area. Present plans for one activity (logging) will result in far ranging and long term impacts on another (tourism). The best future uses of this area are far too important to us for the outcome to be dictated by a single interest point of view.

Now is the time for the provincial government to call for a review of this area’s potential activities, present and future. Surely the best long-term value to the people of B.C. must have top priority for long term stability for this area. Give Clearwater and surrounding area the most sustainable and long term future possible. Please use your voice to have logging plans suspended, pending a full and comprehensive review of all interests for this area.

As a long term resident of Upper Clearwater, since 1975, I have built a home, raised a family, worked in Clearwater, both my wife and me, as part of the community all these years. In the last 10 years our family business has become engaged in tourist accommodation for the park.

The majority of our clientele, not being Canadians, come specifically for the natural attractions found in Wells Gray Park. The conflicting viewpoints of present logging plans and Wells Gray Park tourism exemplifies the need to revisit land use of this particular area for the best outcome for Clearwater and surrounding populations.

Frank Smith


Upper Clearwater, B.C.