The government and a forestry lobby group are firing back at tourist operators who are unhappy with logging operations on Maurelle Island.
“I would argue the tourism community has got much more than lip service. They’ve been heard and accommodated,” said Dwight Yochim, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association.
The Discovery Islands Marine Tourism Group, a lobby group of 15 tourism-related businesses, has expressed its disappointment that logging will proceed on Maurelle Island, located just off the northeast coast of Quadra Island.
“All we ever asked for was a temporary halt to logging in three critical corridors until all the local stakeholders could get together and work out a land use plan,” said spokesman Ralph Keller, who operates a kayaking business on Quadra. “It’s only fair we get more than lip service when it comes to forestry management.”
The Discovery Islands group point out they annually contribute millions of dollars to the local economy and deserve to be heard by government.
Keller added they’re not against logging, but they’re concerned logging in the lower Okisollo Channel will spoil the views enjoyed by locals and visiting tourists.
However, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests and BC Timber Sales, contends that concerns raised by the Discovery Islands Group were heard.
“In this instance, BC Timber Sales had numerous meetings with the Discovery Islands Marine Tourism Group and made accommodations to address their concerns,” said Vivian Thomas, communications director for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
According to Thomas, visual impacts are expected to be minimal and one of the conditions in the recently awarded timber sale licence is there will be no barging of logs during the summer when tourist operations are at their peak.
There will, however, be falling when the weather allows. JWM Forestry won the auction to log two areas on Maurelle.
The timber sale licence is expected to generate $4.85 million in stumpage revenue for the province and another $4 million for the local economy.
“The government believes that both tourism and forestry can co-exist in the Discovery Islands and is working with the tourism, forestry, small business and First Nations interest in the area to address the concerns being raised,” said Thomas in an e-mail to the Mirror.
Yochim also weighed in after reading Wednesday’s front page story (Logging to proceed in spite of opposition).
“Campbell River’s tourism industry has grown over the last 20 years alongside active logging and harvested blocks,” he said. “I think that’s good news because it means tourism and logging can thrive side-by-side in the Georgia Strait.”
He added that cutblock boundaries were adjusted to minimize visual impacts from the waterline and logging will take place over two years during the off-tourism months.