Photo: ilma.com

COLUMN: Logging in watersheds — Nelson area logging companies weigh in

“We’re small, local, single-site operations. If things go wrong here, we can’t shift to a new location

The issue of logging in watersheds is once again making headlines locally, mostly around plans to harvest timber in the Ymir watershed.

As local businesses in the local forest industry, we appreciate and are listening to the concerns of the public on this issue. We agree that dialogue and conversation are needed, and we are hoping that this can be done with respectful conversation.

We think it might be helpful for your readers to hear about the broader perspective on harvesting in watersheds generally.

The Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association is comprised of 11 small- and medium-sized family owned businesses. Here in the West Kootenay, ATCO Wood Products (Fruitvale), Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. (Thrums), Gold Island Forest Products (South Slocan), and Porcupine Wood Products (Salmo), and JH Huscroft (Creston) are members.

Logging in watersheds has been carried out successfully and respectfully in our region for decades. As technical harvesting practices evolved, our companies (and the logging contractors who actually do the harvesting) evolved too. It takes a lot of work — sometimes years of planning — to harvest a tree.

The people responsible for creating harvesting plans and replanting programs adhere to all regulations are Registered Forest Professionals. They have legal and ethical responsibilities to their governing bodies. They work with other professionals, including biologists, hydrologists and engineers to ensure that the highest standards are upheld.

The forest professionals in our companies are some of the most passionate advocates for healthy forests that you’ll ever meet.

They believe deeply in their work, and they care about doing their jobs well. Even the suggestion that their professional responsibilities are compromised because they work for a wood products company is, quite simply, offensive to them.

These professionals live, work, and play in the same forests that you do. They have the same vested interest as the rest of us to have clean, clear water and healthy, vibrant forests.

We all depend on wood products every single day. We live in houses made from wood. We have products like doors, window frames, floors and more. We use paper every day.

Byproducts and waste become electricity. The importance of the forest industry can’t be overstated.

In B.C., we have a Timber Harvesting Land Base, where professionals in the Ministry of Forests have determined that sustainable forestry can be carried out, and watersheds are part of it.

We understand how crucial watersheds are to everybody, including us, and we have the desire and responsibility to get it right.

Those same professionals have determined that harvesting in certain parts of our region isn’t allowed — for example, in areas as vast as the summit of Kootenay Pass, where mountain caribou live. In that one habitat zone alone, more than 60,000 hectares of the THLB was protected and restricted from harvesting (more than 30,000 hectares of that amount was taken from the tenure area of Creston’s ILMA member mill, J.H. Huscroft.)

There are also social restrictions on how forestry takes place within public ‘viewscapes’, as one example of those considerations.

Add in forests burned in wildfires, parks, Old Growth Management Areas, and other restrictions, and the available Timber Harvesting Land Base shrinks considerably. So simply saying, “just ban logging in watersheds” isn’t a reasonable or realistic solution.

Before you reach your own conclusions about forestry, reach out to the people — your neighbours and friends — who have built their careers in it. Talk to the companies directly — those of us who are working hard to be stewards of the land. Learn about the significant planning that often takes years before a single tree is harvested.

ILMA companies can only survive if we continue to operate in a safe, sustainable manner. We’re small, local, single-site operations. If things go wrong here, we can’t simply shift to a new location in some other part of North America. This is our home, and we care deeply about doing the work we do — including harvesting in watersheds — carefully, sustainably, and to the high environmental standards we have in this province. We truly aspire to getting the job done right.

Ken Kalesnikoff, Chairman, ILMA, and CEO Kalesnikoff Lumber Co.

Craig Upper, General Manager, Porcupine Wood Products

Justin Storm, President and General Manager, J.H. Huscroft

Trevor Kanigan, General Manager, Gold Island Forest Products

Scott Weatherford, CEO, ATCO Wood Products

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

From medical equipment to water treatment, Teck Trail is an essential service

” … Trail operations is one of a few, and in some cases, the only North American supplier.”

Kootenay program encourages gardeners to share what they grow during pandemic

The West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op is sending out free seeds, but with a catch

UPDATE: West Kootenay residents stranded in Peru seek a way home

Two West Kootenay residents are being evacuated by the federal government, others are still waiting

PHOTOS: Neighbourhood stroll during a pandemic

Jackie Zelt went looking for people in a time of isolation

‘The Office’ star John Krasinski offers Some Good News in trying times

‘The human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away’

B.C. worker advocate group calls for more sick days, protected medical leave

COVID-19 highlights need for changes to workers legislation: Retail Action Network

New rules issued for B.C. construction projects, work camps for COVID-19

Coastal GasLink, LNG Canada, Trans Mountain and Site C carry on

Grand Forks distillery shifts to make sanitizer

How a Grand Forks distillery is stepping up during the COVID-19 pandemic

Canada to spend $2B more on procuring medical supplies for COVID-19 fight

Government has signed deals with three companies

World COVID-19 updates: Putin may be exposed; 30,000 prisoners released

Comprehensive news update from around the world as of Tuesday, March 31.

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Most Read