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Groups make appeal to save forest

Logging of old-growth Douglas fir firebreak came as a shock to environmental activists in the area.

Alberni Valley Times / Canada.com - Heather Thomson, May 1, 2012

Groups make appeal to save forest
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Cameron Valley Firebreak
Photo by TJ Watt

Port Alberni resident and Watershed-Forest Alliance co-ordinator Jane Morden hikes amongst some of the giant old-growth Douglas-fir trees found in the endangered Cameron Valley Firebreak.

Environmental groups are horrified that Island Timberlands is logging old-growth Douglas fir trees, close to Cathedral Grove, in an area that used to be protected.

Cameron Valley Firebreak was formerly protected as an ungulate winter range for Roosevelt elk and black-tailed deer, but lost protection in 2004 when the provincial government allowed Weyerhaeuser to remove 88,000 hectares of private managed forest land from tree farm licences.

Island Timberlands bought much of Weyerhaeuser's private managed forest land, including the Cameron Valley Firebreak. The area was previously left unlogged to slow the spread of forest fires.
 

Morgan Kennah, manager of sustainable timberlands and community affairs for Island Timberlands, said at one time it was necessary to leave large strips forested, like the one in the Cameron Valley, to minimize the spread of fire if ignited. That is no longer necessary.

"The Cameron Valley and others now host a variety of stands of different age classes, due to spatial and temporal dispersion of forest harvesting," Kennah said. "This harvesting is not expected to increase the risk of forest fires for the Cameron Valley."

TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder, said there are other concerns that should halt logging. "The grove is just jam-packed with elk signs and ancient coastal Douglas firs - 99% of which have already been logged," said Watt.

Kennah said IT currently manages hundreds of hectares of mature timber in the Alberni area for deer winter habitat. They recognize that this area provides good winter habitat for deer, along with many other areas across their private managed forest land.

"From Island's perspective, the area being harvested is some of the least used during winter months by ungulates," she said.

Watt said there are also culturally modified trees in the area, stripped for their cedar bark.

The Port Alberni-based Watershed-Forest Alliance and Ancient Forest Alliance are appealing for Island Timberlands to stop logging the grove until an effort is made to raise funds to save it.

"Island Timberlands does not plan to halt current harvest plans underway, at the request of the Ancient Forest Alliance," Kennah said.

"This old growth forest, that stretches from mountain top to valley bottom, is of monumental importance to deer and elk and is incredibly beautiful to wander through," said Jane Morden, Watership-Forest Alliance co-ordinator.

Logging began last week, according to Kennah, and will continue until completed in approximately three-and-a-half months.

Morden said it was a shock to find a logging crew had started cutting trees at the edge of the grove.

"We have been talking to Island Timberlands about the ungulate winter range because we knew they had plans to harvest, but we were unaware of the start date and we thought we would hear from them before they did anything," she said.

Read more:   http://www2.canada.com/albernivalleytimes/story.html?id=d023fb1d-f1dc-4996-bfa9-8c70120cbf4c


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