Supporters of the initiative to protect the trail system in the Snowden Demonstration Forest flocked to City Hall back in May, when council was scheduled to receive a report recommending they begin the process of asking for a long-term management strategy for the area from all stakeholders. The city has now decided to ask for a moratorium on logging be placed on the area until a long-term strategy can be put in place. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

City of Campbell River to request moratorium on logging in Snowden

Long-term plan is needed to ensure area is sustainable for both forestry and recreation, city says

The City of Campbell River will officially ask the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) for a moratorium on logging activities within the Snowden Demonstration Forest.

BC Timber Sales (BCTS) was set to begin field layout this summer for harvesting five blocks of timber with an expected yield of 20,000 cubic metres. The harvesting activity would involve the construction of six km of new roadway next spring with harvesting to begin once road construction is complete, but the city is asking the ministry to put a hold on those plans to allow for the creation of a long-term management plan for the area.

Council was told at the June 12 Committee of the Whole meeting that although harvesting within the Sayward Landscape Unit – in which Snowden resides – is guided by considerations for impacts to biodiversity, water, wildlife, recreation and timber values, the Snowden area does not currently have a long-term plan in place beyond the currently-planned harvest.

So in a report received by council this week from the city’s long range planning and sustainability manager Amber Zirnhelt, it was recommended that the city write to minister Doug Donaldson requesting a minimum two-year moratorium on all logging activities so that planning can be completed “to help shape Snowden’s future prior to harvesting occurring that will take 60-80 years for regrowth.”

“Without a long term management plan for Snowden its future is uncertain, and the overall impacts of future harvesting are unclear,” Zirnhelt’s report states.

It was also recommended that the development of such a plan be led by FLNRORD, but involve engagement with “key stakeholders, and that the city, Strathcona Regional District, local First Nations, River City Cycle Club and other recreational groups be invited to participate in the plan’s development,” and that the plan evaluates the long-term impacts of harvesting on recreational, ecological and watershed values.

But that wasn’t quite good enough for Coun. Charlie Cornfield, who also wanted to see the plan incorporate an economic impact assessment. Cornfield also didn’t like the idea of having a time-frame of two years in which to complete the plan.

“My history has shown that if you put ‘two years or…’ on something like this, sometimes it gets forgotten after the two years,” Cornfield says. “It needs a comprehensive integrated resource management plan over the whole thing and when you’ve got that, then we’ll talk.”

Coun. Larry Samson agreed.

“We want a master plan,” Samson said. “If it takes longer than two years, so be it. The moratorium should remain in effect. We need a long-range master plan for that whole area.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Zirnhelt’s report also says that it may also be in the city’s best interest to take this opportunity to look at how it is currently marketing its cycling amenities.

“Given the significant recreation interest of residents in cycling and mountain biking in Campbell River and the economic and tourism potential of promoting Campbell River as a mountain bike destination, council may also wish to explore opportunities for developing a future long-term mountain bike recreation and tourism strategy…(which) could explore the opportunity for enhancing, maintaining and promoting the cycling network including road-based cycling opportunities, the city’s cycling path network and mountain biking opportunities,” although that point was not discussed at this week’s meeting.

Similar strategies have been developed with great success in other communities around B.C., the report says, in places such as Whistler, Squamish, Williams Lake and Revelstoke.