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COLUMN: Reconnecting with forests and the need for responsible logging

Brittny Anderson writes about a recent journey into the woods
Brittny Anderson writes about a forest hike with tour guide Andrea Fox.

When I woke up I could hear the rain, and smell it through my open window. I was really looking forward to spending the morning with Fox, also known as Andrea from Elemental Journeys. As I drove to meet her at the Taghum Shell the light rain turned in to a downpour, and although I am not opposed to spending time outside in the rain this was starting to feel a little extreme.

I offered Fox to jump into my car but she insisted I jump in her car, to get the full Fox experience. As we drove up a familiar logging road I was glad I took her up on her offer, since my EV doesn't quite have the clearance necessary for a few sections closer to the end of the road. 

I told her a story about when my family was up Smallwood and decided to take a different trail down from a lookout, assuming it was a loop but then spent over an hour walking back up this road to our vehicles. 

By the time we got to the end of the road, the rain has mostly subsided. We packed our backpacks, Fox lent me some rain pants and we headed down the marked centre line of a future logging road. 

We first paused at the gateway tree on what appeared to be a wildlife path, shared our gratitude and set our intentions for our journey. 

We saw a big Douglas fir and decided to veer off the path for a visit. There were some fallen branches we had to climb over, being very careful on the slippery surfaces. We sat at the base of the tree and Fox told me a story that had came to her as a vision as we listened to the sounds of the forest.

We continued back on the wildlife trail where we came across a large patch of Devil's Club. First Nations people in B.C. have been using Devil's Club in medicine for generations and western medicine has been researching its use for diabetes and other ailments. I found a video on YouTube where a Tlingit elder shares it's spiritual significance for her people.

I had a noon appointment I needed to get to so we headed back to the road, but I would have loved to have more time to explore and learn from Fox.

The area we were in is slated to be logged. The wood will be used to build homes, create jobs and more hiking and mountain biking trails will likely emerge due to its proximity to Nelson and our avid outdoor enthusiast culture. 

I am so torn. Being in the forest always has spiritual significance to me but logging is part of our economy and this area, although it has big trees, would not be classified as old growth. We need the wood to build homes for people. We have committed to protecting 30 per cent of B.C.'s land and water by 2030 and there are areas, like Argenta-Johnsons Landing Face and the Ymir watershed, that I have been working to spare from logging on behalf of its proximate residents. 

Where I see the most harmony with forestry and community is Community Forests, who have been working closely with First Nations in recent years. In places like Harrop-Procter the community is deeply involved in forestry decision making. Because of the sawmill, which the province just invested in to help re-tool for smaller trees, they are adding higher value to each tree extracted from the forest. When that wood gets purchased by local companies like Spearhead or Kalesnikoff, the value per tree climbs even higher. 

Just before we got back to the road, the rain started really coming down, and it felt like our timing was perfect. 

I am grateful for my morning with Fox in the forest and how it helps me connect with myself and my surroundings in a more meaningful way, and ultimately be a better representative for this region.

Brittny Anderson is MLA for Nelson-Creston.