Nearly 100 residents of Six Mile concerned with logging activity underway in their watershed were joined by Regional District of Central Kootenay Area F director Ron Mickel.
“Everyone is concerned about what’s happening at Duhamel,” said Mickel of the meeting held last week.
Mickel believes residents are justified in their worrying. In light of flooding and landslides in Laird, Lasca and Shroeder creeks occurring in the Kootenays this spring, potential landslides are a fear. The Upper Duhamel watershed has been previously logged and landslides have occurred in the area, including two in 2012. The terrain is steep and sandy.
“This happens to be right above a very important watershed and they’re a lot of residences, businesses and even a school at risk should there be a slide as a result of this practice,” he says.
Furthermore, Mickel says the consultation process for this logging plan was lacking.
“Normally there’d be a public meeting or information sessions,” he says. “In this case, up until now, it was just a meeting between the proponent and a select committee formed by I don’t know who.”
Garth Wiggill, regional district manager with the Ministry of Forests, says Kalesnikoff Lumber publicly advertised their Forest Stewardship Plan as they are legally required, which included the Duhamel Creek Forest Development Unit prior to their FSP being originally approved.
Kalesnikoff also notified water users of their logging intentions in a “Notice of Construction,” letter to the Duhamel Creek water user group in May 2012, he says.
“Kalesnikoff’s preparation for logging in Duhamel is consistent with current procedures for managing timber harvesting on provincial forest land including public consultation processes and under the design of the Forest and Range Practices Act, we encourage stakeholders to engage directly with logging proponents,” Wiggill says.
A year ago, more than 100 people in the Six Mile area signed a petition hoping to put a halt to Kalesnikoff Lumber’s plans to log in the Lower Duhamel watershed.
Meeting organizer Heather Ives said another petition is in the works after last week’s meeting. They plan to submit it to Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.
They’d like to see road building currently underway stopped.
“Please suspend the road building and logging operations that have begun at Duhamel Creek by enacting the general power of intervention under Section 77 of the Forest and Range Practices Act, pending a more complete review of the proposed logging, with meaningful community engagement,” reads the petition found at change.org.
“At the present moment, we are in research and information gathering mode to be thorough,” says Ives, “and bringing different factions together to work as a community on the issue.”
She says residents continue to meet and are looking for non-violent strategies to work toward a solution.
Mickel says these folks are keeping an eye on what’s happening in their backyard.
“We’ve now brought a lot of focus on the issue,” he says. “Even if the logging does go ahead, the industry knows what is expected of them and knows it’s going to be watched. I think that will have a positive impact. I am hoping that all this is not for nothing.”