Some North Okanagan politicians are increasingly frustrated that community interests are taking a backseat to Ministry of Forests priorities.
The Electoral Area Advisory Committee wants the Ministry of Forests to enhance public consultation over issuing new harvesting licenses.
“We’re not saying, don’t cut trees. We’re saying don’t do it so it causes bad things to community watersheds,” said Jackie Pearase, rural Enderby director.
Many of the concerns arose after B.C. Timber Sales, a government agency, initiated a process to possibly allow 209 hectares in the North Fork area of Cherryville to be sold off for timber harvesting.
If the process proceeds, the 209 hectares could include eight new cutblocks, as well as a 6.5-kilometre road to allow for harvesting.
“It would be a disaster to our watershed,” said Eugene Foisy, Cherryville director.
The Cherry Ridge Management Committee had hoped it could expand operations into that area so harvesting could occur in a sustainable manner while protecting the watershed. If a license is issued to private interests, then that opportunity disappears.
Pearase is upset with how B.C. Timber Sales consults with communities and elected officials.
“Sending us a letter saying, ‘Give us comment in a week,’ isn’t sufficient,” she said.
Beyond Cherryville, there is a concern about two new woodlots possibly being established at the headwaters of Ashton Creek, east of Enderby.
“We had logging there before and there were results to our community watershed,” said Pearase, who is concerned that harvesting could worsen the possibility of flooding along Ashton Creek.
“Often it’s not even the logging (that causes problems), it’s the roads they make.”
Pearase believes generating money through harvest licenses appears to be the primary focus of the Ministry of Forests.
“The community has done the right thing (with sustainable practises) and the ministry doesn’t give a damn about local wants and concerns,” she said.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Forests explained the BCTS process.
“Prior to putting timber up for auction, BCTS conducts extensive review of each project with a particular focus on limiting potential environmental impacts,” it stated.