By David F. Rooney
A movement to save the trees on Mount Macpherson from logging planned for this summer is growing in strength and it plans to flex that muscle with a rally on May 21.
“At the moment we have collected 2,428 signatures (on a petition),” said the ad hoc organization’s spokeswoman, Carol Prince. “68% are from BC, 16% are Albertans. 36% are from Revelstoke.”
That’s not all they’re doing. They have a website at savemacpherson.org with videos, testimonials and documents that support their argument that the slopes above Highway 23S are too valuable as a driver for tourism to be logged.
One of those documents is a brief analysis produced by Chamber of Commerce Tourism Coordinator Megan Tabor in 2014 says the area’s trails were used by 3,716 mountain bikers that summer. She estimated that they pumped $215,528 into Revelstoke’s economy.
BC Timber Sales (BCTS) plans to permit logging operations on 21.3 hectares on Macpherson this summer. (Please click here to see a map of the permit area.) That 21.3 ha area includes:
- 1.2 ha of existing roads;
- 6.8 ha of wildlife tree retention area (not harvested and adjacent to the TNT trail as per the bike club request); and that leaves
- 15.3 ha that will be harvested.
Many local residents are unhappy with that. Over the last several years the Nordic Ski Club has developed a small lodge and rigged lights to illuminate its cross-country trails. That works extremely well for skiers and during the rest of the year mountain bikers flock there to ride the trails. The beauty of Macpherson’s forested slopes draws locals and out-of-towners back again and again. Logging, they fear, will mar the area and drive riders away.
As Community Economic Development Director Alan Mason noted in a 2015 report to City Council, “with the enhancement of the trails systems, the recreational activities that take place on these trails have become important tourism attractions for the community, and we are seeing increasing numbers of skiers and mountain bikers accessing the trails.”
As most Revelstokians will recall there was a strong outcry when logging began in the nearby Begbie Falls area in 2013. That’s when people realized that a long-term plan for managing the area created back in the 1980s no longer had any legal standing.
All parties to this current situation have invested money and effort to achieve their own particular goals. The forestry companies are already major contributors to the success of our economy while the recreation groups that are beginning to realize major success have their own economic ambitions for the area. And everyone needs to remember that even though Revelstoke and its residents regard these areas as ‘theirs’ City Council has no jurisdiction over any activity at Mount Macpherson or nearby Begbie Falls.
The petition now being circulated is not the first one intended to block logging on the mountain. A 2015 petition bearing 1,660 signatures was sent to City Council and Mayor McKee did lobby Forestry Minister Steve Thomson, but Prince suggested that Council is not being very proactive at this point in time and time is running out.
“We haven’t had a lot of support from City Council,” she said in an interview on Saturday, May 7.
“It’s important to stress that this is not an anti-logging thing at all. We all recognize the value of the timber industry and the role it plays in our economy. But it seems like there is a lot of logging tenure out there and not a lot where outdoor recreation has been developed.”
Meanwhile Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald was to speak with Thomson on Tuesday afternoon, May 10.
“As you know, I have long fought for a return to local decision making,” he told the minister in a formal letter sent ahead of their meeting. “I have stated many times my view that the best decisions are made by those who are closest to the land base, and the greatest wisdom sits within a community. I stand with the people of Revelstoke in their desire to improve the way decisions are made on our land base.”
Mcdonald also posted the Save Macpherson Facebook group on his page with the following caption: “My inbox has been filled with email from people in Revelstoke, and who care about Revelstoke, asking for the provincial government to create more inclusive land use policies. This is one of the biggest issues across my constituency – the loss of local decision making on our landbase since the BC Liberals came to power in 2001. Keep speaking out for what you believe in. In the end, that is the only way that we ensure our democracy remains healthy and strong.”
The location for the rally has yet to be determined.
Click here to read a 2015 report to City Council by Community Economic Development Director Alan Mason.