The Forest Practices Board has decided not to appeal a Ministry of Forests decision approving amendments to BC Timber Sales’ forest stewardship plan, which includes plans for logging on Spallumcheen’s Rose Swanson Mountain.
However, the board encourages the creation of a new management plan that takes into account the concerns and perspectives of the public.
The decision comes after considerable pushback from the public on the proposed logging, with a petition to halt any logging on Rose Swanson Mountain garnering more than 24,000 signatures since it was created in October 2020.
Rose Swanson Mountain was designated as a sensitive area in 1996, and recent plans by BC Timber Sales to harvest in the area have been met by pushback from the community, as the mountain is a well-used recreational site. The sensitive area order had the following four objectives:
• Maintain and enhance trail network for use by recreationalists
• Protect visual quality of area
• Maintain recreation values by limiting timber harvesting to low impact silvicultural systems
• Protect the area against vandalism and timber theft
In July, the Forest Practices Board reviewed a request from a member of the public to appeal the approval of amendments to BC Timber Sales’ forest stewardship plan.
The board decided not to appeal amendments to the plan. However, many in the area are concerned that the harvesting will jeopardize Rose Swanson Mountain’s recreational and natural value.
The board can appeal decisions made by government under the Forest and Range Practices Act or the Wildfire Act, such as determinations of non-compliance, penalties or approvals of plans for forestry or range operations. To do this, the board would make an appeal to the independent Forest Appeals Commission if it believes a decision was made in error and that there is a public interest that is affected by the decision.
“In the Board’s view, BC Timber Sales’ results and strategies represent a reasonable balance between timber harvesting and preserving recreation activities and values in the Rose Swanson Mountain area,” Forest Practices Board chair Keith Atkinson said in an open letter.
BC Timber Sales has divided the Rose Swanson Mountain area into two zones. The first zone includes the main trails, and the board says the timber harvesting restrictions in that zone should result in “little to no impact to recreation in this area.” No timber harvesting will occur within 100 metres of the first zone, except harvesting necessary for sanitation and salvage.
Timber harvesting in the second zone can occur, but it is limited to low-impact silviculture systems and a maximum of 50 per cent of the basal area can be harvested within 15 metres of a Zone 2 trail.
“BC Timber Sales will be required to consider input from the public when it plans to harvest timber. BC Timber Sales committed, in its results and strategies, to refer timber harvesting plans to the public for input at least 120 days before starting the work,” Atkinson wrote.
The board notes that “many people” are opposed to any harvesting in the Rose Swanson Mountain area, and says the government “has an opportunity now to address the public’s concerns by developing a new management plan that takes the local community’s knowledge and input into account.”
A management plan for the area was created in the 1990s but was never updated. Therefore, it was automatically cancelled in 2006. The board says a new management plan “that reflects the public’s perspective” would be of value.
Marge Sidney, president of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Trails Society, says the society is “not against logging,” but the forest stewardship plan needs to take into account values other than just profit-generating harvesting.
“What we’re having a problem with is we need all values to be taken into consideration, like rare and endangered species, and Indigenous values, and riparian, and recreation, and on and on,” she told The Morning Star.
She said BC Timber Sales has “wiped the slate clean” and will potentially hold off on auctioning timber until next year.
“We want to see what they do between now and then.”
Sidney sits on a select committee that looks into BC Timber Sales harvesting plans. She said BC Timber Sales has said it will bring maps of the logging plan to the committee’s next meeting for them to go over.
“We would love that if BC Timber Sales put FireSmarting as part of their plan,” said Sidney, explaining the Rose Swanson Mountain area contains fire hazards that need to be cleaned up.
“There’s a lot of dead and dying wood,” she said, adding she’s skeptical that BC Timber Sales would harvest the wood as “there’s no value in the timber that’s left standing.”