The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)

The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)

Tolko urged to halt planned logging above Greater Vernon water supply

RDNO says planned cutblock above Duteau Creek could threaten 60 per cent of Vernon area water supply

The Regional District of North Okanagan is urging Tolko Industries to halt plans for a cutblock near the Greater Vernon area’s primary water source.

The Duteau Creek water intake — also known as the Headgates — is located 500 metres below the proposed logging activity. It supplies 60 per cent of the water that services the Greater Vernon area, the RDNO said in a Thursday (April 22) press release.

Tolko, a Vernon-based lumber manufacturer, is planning to log on top of a steep slope directly above “this vital source of water,” the RDNO said, adding its engineers and a hydrologist on retainer are “very concerned” that this logging and the remaining partially cleared land on the block could lead to a landslide or debris torrent, which in turn could damage the water system.

The RDNO received notice on April 9 that the logging would be taking place in May 2021.

“Based on the current information available, the risk to water quality and quantity is unacceptable to the RDNO,” the release states.

The RDNO has been in talks with Tolko about the cutblock since it first became aware of the logging plan back in 2016, but says Tolko has “made marginal changes to their plan in response,” and officials are unconvinced that the risk has been properly addressed based on the information Tolko has provided.

The district is requesting that work on the cutblock be paused within the watershed boundary, until Tolko engages with the district to find a solution that protects drinking and agricultural water supplies, while allowing the company to access fibre.

“The board adamantly opposes the current proposal to log (this) Tolko block,” reads a staff report to the RDNO board Wednesday, April 21.

“We want to be clear. The RDNO is not opposed to logging or forestry operations. We have serious concerns about logging at this specific location, and we are asking Tolko to pause and work with us so we can find a mutually beneficial solution,” said Kevin Acton, chair of the RDNO board.

In response, Tolko communications advisor Chris Downey told the Morning Star they received the RDNO’s letter two days ago and are currently evaluating its contents.

Downey said the proposed cutblock is within the Timber Harvesting Land Base, which B.C.’s chief forester refers to when drawing up annual harvesting levels.

The disagreement appears to be on the level of expert opinion: while the regional district’s engineers and hydrologist saw red flags in their assessment of the cutblock, Tolko’s review of the site came to the opposite conclusion.

“Tolko’s staff geoscientist field-reviewed the site and produced his professional evaluation and report, which indicated that it would be safe to harvest in the area,” Downey said, adding Tolko has shared its report with the regional district.

Tolkso argues there is a benefit to harvesting the area, as it would create a fire break that could slow the spread of a wildfire were one to occur there.

“Additionally, old logging roads would be removed along with our temporary new road at the end of the process and the area would be replanted,” Downey said, adding that “several” planning assessments were completed that support Tolko’s move in this direction.

“We all depend on the Duteau Creek community watershed for our water supply, and this is why Tolko has worked hard to develop a good relationship with the Duteau Creek Watershed Technical Advisory Committee and the Regional District,” Downey said.

READ MORE: Province pauses plans to log Rose Swanson Mountain area in Armstrong

READ MORE: Former BC Tree Fruits Kelowna packinghouse listed for $20M


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

forestryWater

Just Posted

Fraser Health registered nurse Kai Kayibadi draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. To reduce long lines and wait times the first 1,000 Surrey residents to arrive at the neighbourhood clinic on both Monday and Tuesday will receive wristbands and a same-day appointment. The effort is in addition to the provincial vaccination plan which is now open for bookings to anyone who is 18 years and older. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
69 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Interior Health

The province, in total, recorded 411 new cases showing a downtrend of new infections

Council has allocated funding in the 2021 budget to upgrade and restore this part of the Gartrell Trail named after Summerland pioneers Fred and Mary Gartrell. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
COLUMN: Providing answers about Summerland’s Gartrell Trail

This 225-square-metre strip of land lies between the existing Gartrell Trail and the high water mark

WorkSafe BC is out in the Interior making sure wineries, cideries and breweries are adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. (File photo)
WorkSafe visiting Interior wineries, cideries and breweries ahead of tourist tasting season

40 field inspections and 35 consultations are expected over next few weeks

B.C. RCMP released these two photos of Erick Fryer (left) and Carlo Fryer (right). The two brothers from Kamloops were found dead near a remote road in Naramata May 10, 2021. (RCMP photo)
Slain Kamloops brothers found near Penticton not likely connected to recent B.C. gang wars: RCMP

Police confirm the bodies found near Naramata as Erick Fryer, 29, and Carlo Fryer, 31

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Summerland’s lakeshore land should be protected

There is an opportunity to restore this important lakeshore habitat for fish and wildlife

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

Coldstream Fire Department was quick to arrive and knock down a fire Sunday, May 16, in a Matner Lane orchard just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Coldstream fire crews quick to knock down blaze

Fire broke out just before 2:30 p.m. on Matner Lane, which is just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road

Several RCMP cruisers stationed out front of Kelowna’s Global Fitness following a shooting on the morning of Monday, March 29. The shooting was later revealed to be gang-related. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
B.C.’s top gangs are operating in Kelowna: RCMP

‘We have all of the major gangs in Kelowna,’ said Supt. Kara Triance

Crews battled a grass fire behind the Tolko mill along the railway tracks off Otter Lake Cross Road in Spallumcheen Monday, April 26. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star file)
Reports of man lighting Vernon fires with blowtorch

Grassfires sparked near train tracks, behind bottle depot

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News file)
Kelowna RCMP promotion process tainted with bias: federal judge

An officer was passed over for a promotion in 2015

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Most Read