Illegal cutting of mature hemlock and fir trees from a nature reserve in The Shuswap is troubling officials as well as environmentally minded community members.
Phil McIntyre-Paul said Tuesday, December 8, that someone drove a pickup truck onto pedestrian tales in the Eagle River Nature Reserve and dropped mature hemlock and fir trees, “presumably as fire wood.”
Unauthorized removal of trees is an offense under the Park Act. Under current provincial legislation, illegal damage to critical habitat and protected areas is punishable with fines of up to $1,000,000 and a year in prison jail. Individuals considering cutting firewood can legally do so but must first contact the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“It’s just so unacceptable,” said Lori Schneider Wood, who oversees the Shuswap Trail Alliance stewardship program. “Many of us have invested long hours and funds to ensure natural spaces like the Eagle River Nature reserve remain very special places for people to experience. There is absolutely zero tolerance for this kind of destruction. Every time one person does something selfish like this it adds to the cumulative destruction of our parks and natural spaces. I can’t even start to suggest the long-term cost for the ecology, recreation, and tourism.”
McIntyre-Paul, executive director of the Trail Alliance said “evidence showed truck tracks driven into the nature reserve along dedicated foot trails and two mature trees fallen and bucked, presumably for fire wood. “There was probably about $1,000 of fire wood there,” said local trail steward, Derrick Kucheran. Derrick runs Cedars Campground, which like many tourism businesses in the Malakwa area, realizes direct benefits from the attraction natural areas like those at Eagle River provide.
BC Parks and Shuswap Trail Alliance leadership have issued a region wide call for increased vigilance by residents, trail users, and stewards. They are encouraged to report suspicious activity to RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) 1-877-952-7277 (1-877-952-RAPP), as well as sending a note to the Shuswap Trail Report at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BC Parks officials also recommend taking a cell phone photograph and sending it in with as much detail as you can, including — if you should spot the tree poachers’ vehicle — license plate numbers.