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4th August 2022
Regional district unwavering in opposition to proposed salvage logging near Sicamous

CSRD disappointed with BC Timber Sales’ plans for Wiseman Creek watershed

LACHLAN LABERE Aug. 2, 2022 10:00 a.m. NEWS

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District is standing by recommendations against logging in the Wiseman Creek watershed.

In a July 19 letter to BC Timber Sales (BCTS) planning forester Grace Chomitz, regional district board chair Kevin Flynn asked that the provincial government agency “re-evaluate all technical reports conducted pertaining to terrain stability in the Sicamous and Wiseman Creek watershed and reconsider completing the legacy remediation without harvesting the salvage timber.”

The letter was in response to a presentation by BCTS and Chomitz to the CSRD board in April regarding proposed salvage logging in the watershed where the Two Mile Creek wildfire occurred in 2021.

Chomitz explained hydrological function in areas impacted by the blaze had been reduced, and “post-fire conditions are contributing to a high hazard rating that includes a legacy network of non-status roads and trails that were not deactivated.”

“These roads and trails are disrupting the drainage patterns and impacting the slope stability in the area,” said Chomitz. “There’s a large amount of hydrophobic soils (soils that repel water), as well as very little surviving vegetation. It has been indicated further landslide activity in this area is expected.”

Chomitz explained several points of concern had been identified in the watershed that would be addressed in conjunction with the proposed salvage logging.

“All of these points of concern offer the opportunity to make the watershed more resilient – BCTS is currently working on a plan to fix these legacy concerns within the watershed,” said Chomitz. “We’re able to address these concerns because of our salvage harvesting operation.”

The remediation work proposed by BCTS was based on recommendations from a terrain stability report by M.J. Milne and Associates. During the April presentation to the board, it was pointed out how those recommendations conflicted with recommendations the CSRD received from BGC Engineering Inc., which was hired with funding from Emergency Management BC (EMBC) to complete a post-wildfire assessment of the watershed. BGC determined that harvesting salvage timber in the watershed would increase the risk of landslides, which would impact residences below.

“Although harvesting while conducting the remediation is more cost effective, in this case the engineers hired through EMBC funding have determined that this option would significantly increase the public safety risk,” reads the letter from Flynn and the CSRD. “The Board is responsible for considering the safety of its residents first and foremost, and it is for this reason that the Board is disappointed in the decision by BCTS to continue with the remediation through harvesting rather than remediating the current situation without harvesting the salvage timber.”

Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin thanked Flynn for the letter, saying it gets the point across very well.

“I think we had to be assertive but positive at the same time,” replied Flynn.