There have been calls for a long-term strategy to be developed for the Snowden Demonstration Forest and assurances that stakeholders would work together to get such a plan put in place, but the city has been informed that previously-proposed cutblocks in Snowden’s core are still going ahead without one.
Which doesn’t sit well with council. Last June, three stakeholders, including BC Timber Sales (BCTS) – which plans the cutblocks – agreed that a working group would be formed to provide input into future harevsting activities and devlop a long-term strategy for the area.
The mandate of the committee, which became known as the Snowden Advisory Group, was “to ensure long term (years five to 20) and short term planning (next five years) in the Snowden finds the best balance of values and conditions – including timber, recreation, community watershed and others.” It is made up of representatives from the city, the regional district, River City Cycle Club, River Runners and other stakeholders with interests in the area, be they educational, recreational or economic.
However, city staff has informed council that “BCTS has indicated its intention to proceed with timber harvest preparations in 2019 immediately following adoption of a short term (five year) plan,” which has spurred council into writing yet another letter to Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson, again asking for the province to create a long-term forest development plan for the area, which it has, until now, left up to BCTS.
“While the Snowden Advisory Group convened in Fall 2018 and hosted by BCTS is a respectful and constuctive forum with some good information-sharing, there does not appear to be intent either to examine alternative cut block locations outside the core area, or to defer harvest within the core area until a comprehensive long term plan is developed,” the city’s newest letter to the ministry reads.
“Before irrevocable change to the core area has occurred in the form of timber harvest, the city reiterates its desire to see a higher level of legal protection of the non-timber values of the Snowden Demonstration Forest, along with active, comprehensive and long-term planning for all forest attributes and activities, and requests a moratorium on harvesting until this request has been evaluated in full.”
During the discussion at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday this week, Mayor Andy Adams said that while this certainly isn’t a new discussion, it has come to a head with the current cutblock proposal.
“They have a mandate to do their annual allowable cutblocks and where they will be, but we started talking to them long ago about our concerns about the impact on Snowden and particularly the recreational activities, but also the preservation of some of the more pristine areas,” Adams says.
And they think it’s time for a long-term sustainability plan to be drawn up before any more big decisions are made in an area that has so many other values than just the trees themselves.