Community forest the solution in Salmo
There is a battle going on the Russian Hill on Airport Road in Salmo. Halfway Creek supplies nine families with water through a water box. The descendants of the Doukhobor settlers deserve better. They reclaimed almost all of the farmland in the Salmo Valley.
The headwaters of Halfway Creek are scheduled for clearcut logging starting in 2012. The forest is old growth cedar and spruce. This moist forest environment has fed this water supply for decades. With annual variability it may take a decade to dry up.
Logging companies have led the “Forest Circus” by the nose in this destructive act. They have already overbuilt the road. This is built to bedrock, which completely intercepts the flow of water down slope (except at culverts). This produces feast and famine on the slope. It is my premise that an alternative to massive clearcutting be developed now that the road is built.
Clearcutting increases spring highs which increases siltation. This is already evident in a waterbox in the adjacent Woodchuck Creek.
This same road was built above which silted the creek below. When trees are logged, there is less storage so spring snowmelt is allowed flow unchecked downslope.
Live trees not only store for the drier season but they transpire (evaporate) water in spring so downflow is reduced.
Clearcutting creates lower summer lows because there are no trees to store water and release water slowly into the soil.
Clearcutting a watershed will destroy quantity, quality, and timing of water at the waterbox. It takes many decades for a plantation to catch up on a mature forest (transpiration, storage, shading, and root stability).
These people will wait a long time without water. Drilling doesn’t look good either because of the rocky alluvial fan on which these residents live.
An alternative to these large clearcuts is to develop a community forest. The logging can be done at a slower pace. Other silvicultural systems could be employed.
Caribou frequent this area so food and travel corridors must be preserved.
To say clearcutting is the only answer is shortsighted.