By David F. Rooney
Area B Director Loni Parker is drawing a line in the sand and demanding that “Stella-Jones be required to update and incorporate” the Begbie Falls Integrated Resource Plan before cutting any more trees
“Failing this option I request that Stella Jones be required to amend their permit to incorporate the intent of the BFIRP,” she told The Current on Thursday.
The BFIRP was drawn up in the early 1990s to soothe friction between local recreational users of the Begbie Falls and Begbie Bench areas and Bell Pole, which had the timber tenure in that area.
The BFIRP, which called for voluntary compliance was in place until kast year when Stella Jones, the timber company that bought Bell Pole a number of years ago, decided it would log 60 hectares of forest at two locations near Begbie Falls.
In a December 21 letter to the provincial Forest Practices Board Parker formally complained about the company’s decision:
“Please acknowledge this correspondence as a formal letter of complaint regarding Stella Jones’ harvesting plans in the Begbie Bench/Begbie Falls area without adequate public involvement by the residents of Revelstoke and Area B and a request that an investigation take place regarding the proposed clear-cut logging by Stella-Jones of a recently completed Fire Smart Demonstration Project in the same area. Some harvesting has already commenced.”
She said the Fire Smart Demonstration Area should be exempt from harvesting and “while there is no longer a legal requirement to follow the (BFIRP) plan there should be a moral component to harvest the area [at the very least] according to the plan. Since the plan was approved public use and recreation has increased exponentially and this needs to be taken into consideration.”
Parker acknowledged that while “there is no longer a legal requirement to follow the plan” there should be a moral duty to harvest the area according to the plan.
“Since the plan was approved public use and recreation has increased exponentially and this needs to be taken into consideration,” she wrote. “However stakeholders still needed to be advised. The Revelstoke Cycling Association [they have tenure for their trails] and First Nations were contacted directly and made aware of the plan to log but the general public was largely unaware until recently…
“Forest Companies must take values other than timber harvesting into consideration when developing their plans.
“The Begbie Falls Area has significantly high values for recreation, wildlife, and due to the high volume of public use it perfectly situated to showcase alternative forest practices for multiple use activities and demonstration projects such as the Fire Smart Project just completed.”
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District board, of which Parker is the director for Area B (the rural area surrounding Revelstoke) has asked the Steve Thomson, minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, to rescind Stella Jones’ cutting permit. However, in his reply to the CSRD Thomson said Stella Jones is complying with regulations and their permit will not be rescinded.
Revelstoke City Council, meanwhile, has asked municipal staff to explore the possibility of creating a new plan to replace the 20-year-old BFIRP.