An open letter to the Tumbler Ridge Community Forest

Dear Sir:

Recently I read of the Wildfire Prescription for Local Forest – The Golf Course Road Forest, Planned Treatment Schedule – October 2014.

Let me be forthwith: I hope that this prescribed area will not turn out to look like other areas in and nearby town that have been logged, with the intention of protecting “town property and its citizens”, or in some cases, for its timber value.

There have been many areas around town that have been deforested throughout the last few years. I understand the importance of protecting District assets, and protecting the assets and well-being of its citizens but the question I pose, and hope to perpetuate, is; is it absolutely necessary to clear such wide swaths of land without retaining some trees, in particular the healthy spruce, large or otherwise? I bring in to question, the areas to the south and west of the Trend hotel, the large residential area (and I use the terrn “residential” loosely), behind the heavy industrial park just to the south of town and the most unfortunate area of all to befall a logging operation, the cut blocks to the left and right of the road along the route to Kinuseo Falls.

Most troubling to me in the press release is the statement in the Area Prescription section that reads, “Harvest pine cut to length with forwarder. Retain the deciduous and faller selection non wind-firm spruce.” After witnessing the deforestation of other areas in town, I read this statement as “Harvest the beetle kill and any other pine tree within sight, living or not. Retain a sparse few deciduous trees, and harvest any spruce you can see that will bring value to the logging operation.

In my opinion, leaving the selection of non-wind firm spruce open to the interpretation of the “faller” is an open invitation for the logging contractor who takes the job to log the area at will. Which, will inevitably mean taking more than just non-wind firm spruce throughout the area as the timber value of these trees is far greater than any other tree being removed for the purpose of “protecting “town property and its citizens”.

What I fear will be left, is 37 hectares of land that has been logged and mulched, devoid of any stands of healthy trees. What will remain are a few random stands of poplar and aspen bush, with vast open areas that have not only lost their visual beauty, but also their potential to be developed into large parcel, treed lots. (Remove the trees; remove the value, perceived, visual and actual. Look to the lots behind the heavy industrial area just to the north of town.)

Tumbler Ridge is again facing difficult times and over the next few years tourism is going to be one of the driving economic factors in town. If the prescribed 37 hectares is logged in the way I fear it will be, we will have deforested the route to our tourism crown jewel, the Tumbler Ridge Golf and Country Club. Imagine if you will, a visitors first impression as they drive the Golf Course Road. I imagine it to be very much like their first impression of Kinuseo Falls after the widespread logging off of the Murray Forest Service Road a few years back. Compounding my distress is the issue of removing more trees than are necessary, devaluing any potential future development of the area for large parcel residential lots.

I implore the District to push the deadline for “protecting” this area of town back, and let a much deeper investigation of the timber in this area to be made. We are out of wildfire season. There is no great need at this juncture to deforest this massive area within district boundaries.

Please, if I am wrong in my opinion or ideas regarding this situation challenge me. But the last thing I want to see, is the town that I grew up in, the town in which I have chosen to live my life, pay taxes and remain a citizen of since the early 1980’s, the town which sits in the middle of an amazingly diverse northern BC forest, be devoid of the very thing that makes it an amazing place to be… The Forest.

Jonathon Howe