Editor, The Times:
Regarding Trevor Goward’s open letter to the CEO of Canfor (“Heritage committee asks Canfor to rethink planning,” Aug. 27 issue), another vital issue for many Clearwater Valley residents is water quality and quantity.
I am concerned about the impact that logging and road building by Canfor could have on the west slope of Trophy Mountain. I own nearly 500 acres in the Clearwater Valley, half of it directly below the area of proposed logging. I operate two guest cabins, which attract an international clientele. The water supply comes from Shook Brook, which flows off Trophy Mountain onto the property. The irrigation and fire protection systems depend on this creek. Since 2002, I have been a licensed independent power producer for B.C. Hydro with a dam, penstock and turbine on this creek.
Shook Brook is currently a very stable stream with minor seasonal fluctuations. It has never flooded and never gone dry in the 17 years that I have owned the property, and the previous owner since 1944 never experienced that either. If the drainage basin above the intake is logged, I am sure the fluctuations will become significant and the creek could even go dry, as nearby streams such as Fage and Ordschig do in late summer.
Everybody who lives or does business along the Wells Gray Park road below Trophy Mountain depends on its flowing streams for their water supplies, either by gravity or wells. I have invested a lot of money in my water and hydro system, but I doubt if Canfor will voluntarily compensate me if the creek no longer has a reliable year-round flow due to upstream logging.
Logging took place on Trophy Mountain during the 1980s and early 1990s. The downstream effects of these clearcuts have been devastating and included the loss of three highway bridges: First Canyon Creek in 1997, Spahats Creek in 1999, and Grouse Creek in 2001. Second Canyon Creek and Fage Creek nearly washed out the highway. Hundreds of residents and tourists were trapped beyond these washouts for periods of up to a week. The cost to taxpayers for new bridges, road repairs, rescue helicopters and emergency personnel was over $5 million. However, the stumpage fees earned by the government from this unwise logging on Trophy Mountain amounted to just a fraction of the eventual costs.
After a three-year consultation in the late 1990s, Clearwater Valley residents and the Ministry of Forests signed an agreement in 2000 that gave residents every right to expect that no major logging would ever occur again on Trophy Mountain. This agreement is being ignored by Canfor’s planners.
The recent tragic landslide at Johnsons Landing, blamed on upslope logging, clearly shows that future logging must be planned carefully where the affected mountainside has numerous homes, lodges, campgrounds and Thompson Rivers University’s busy Wilderness Research Centre directly below.
I have written to Hon. Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, and Hon. Terry Lake, Minister of Environment, asking them to consider a moratorium on further industrial logging in the Clearwater Valley until a formal discussion can occur about the area’s economic values and water supplies. Neither directly addressed this question in their replies. This action would potentially save taxpayers and the government millions of dollars in infrastructure repairs and legal liability in the event of landslides or washouts due to Trophy Mountain logging.