Saturday, 30 June 2012

Response to Mac Fraser's letter. Hardball but willing to talk.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Regional District has requested that Island Timberlands cease all operations on DL 3040 (Stillwater Bluffs) while they enter into negotiations to acquire it for a regional park.

Please write to them and say thank you. This is a great first step.

Powell River Regional District

5776 Marine Avenue, Powell River, BC V8A 2M4

Tel: 604 483-3231 | Fax: 604 483-2229

Here is the letter ....

Darshan Sihota President Island Timberlands

Re: District Lot 3040 Powell River - Stillwater Bluffs

As you may be aware, the Powell River Regional District has identified District Lot 3040 Powell River as one of six regional park acquisition objectives through its Regional Parks and Greenspace Plan. In recent conversation with local Island Timberlands staff, the Regional District has been made aware that planned logging operations on the property would be deferred if the Regional District entered into meaningful discussions about acquisition of the property. Please take this letter as formal confirmation of this intent with the expectation that Island Timberlands will immediately cease all planning and harvesting activities on the property. As I expect you will understand, any harvesting of the standing timber on the property will adversely affect our subsequent acquisition negotiations.

The length of the proposed deferment of planning and harvesting operations will need to be further defined to our mutual satisfaction. Our staff is ready to meet with the appropriate Island Timberland staff at a time and place of your choosing to complete this detail and start confidential discussions about acquisition of the property. It is suggested that this meeting should be a priority to give you confidence of our seriousness and not to unnecessarily encumber or delay your corporate operations.

Thank you for your staff's offer of the deferment of operations and I look forward to a progressive and mutually beneficial negotiation of our acquisition of the property.

Mac Fraser

Chief Administrative Officer

cc: Wayne French

Monday, 16 April 2012

50 plus people came out to Stillwater Bluffs and hiked in support of this area becoming a regional park. Ken Wu, TJ Watt and Chris from the Ancient Forest Alliance walked with us. Friends of Stillwater Bluffs and the Ancient Forest Alliance are working together to ask Island Timberlands to lay off contentious lands for now so that these lands can be purchased and protected. Also for the Provincial Government to pony up some money as part of a Parks Acquisition Fund so that these lands can be held protected for years to come. Thank you all for coming out.

If you missed the hike but still would love to support this campaign it's easy. Call or write to the Regional District and thank them for starting the negotiations with Island Timberlands and tell them that there constituency is noticing.
604 483-3231

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Regional Board Responds

The Powell River Regional District Board met this Tuesday (April 10) and was presented with a Friends of Stillwater Bluffs delegation.  New information regarding the now imminent plans of Island Timberlands was presented.  At the end of March three of our members were invited (upon request) to walk part of DL3040 with Wayne French, I.T.'s forestry representative for Powell River.  During this walkabout it was stated that IT would be in this area flagging and tagging trees with spray paint for block and road layout this April.  This new fast tracked schedule was a shock and our group quickly requested a meeting with Mac Fraser, Chief Executive Officer of the Regional District.  Mac would be absent for this upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting so Friends of Stillwater Bluffs took this new information to present at that meeting.

David Moore's pitch to the board was simple and clear, "please communicate with I.T. management that the RD is considering DL3040 for park - and please stop any onsite operations pending further development".  No director offered any directive at this point.  David (of FOSB) then reiterated to them that Wayne French was going full steam ahead with harvest planning and because Wayne and I.T. have received nothing from our Regional District and in particular the meeting our Regional District had with I.T. in March was not with management, but with lower level functionaries. 

One other request FOSB presented was a letter that a board member from Cortez Island had written and submitted to I.T. that resulted in a six month ceasing of operations.  Our request was for a similar letter to be written on behalf of DL3040.  This request was not taken enthusiastically and it took City Councilor Maggie Hathaway's outburst of, "Let's just write the letter!  They can say no but at least we can write a letter."  She was then asked by the chair if she would like to put that in a motion.  She did and it was unanimously passed.  THANK YOU MAGGIE!!  We will wait to see what results this letter will yield to us.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Friends of Stillwater Bluffs went on a walk through of DL3040 (the bluffs) with Wayne French from Island Timberlands on Tuesday March 27. Wayne indicated that he would have a ground crew marking and flagging for tree removal and road building within the next couple of weeks. This could happen very quickly. We need more pressure on the Regional District to ask Island Timberlands to give us some time to get together a proposal to buy this land. please call the District or email them.


The Case for Retaining DL 3040 in its Entirety Undisturbed

The call to protect the Stillwater Bluffs by purchasing it for a park is now a matter for public discussion.   The Friends of Stillwater Bluffs is pleased to see a renewed interest in honoring this wondrous place as a part of our natural heritage.   It certainly is that for those who have taken the time to enjoy the benefits of visiting there through the seasons.  Now that it is threatened by commercial logging, it appears the only way to save the bluffs will be to purchase the property from the corporate owners.  The question arises whether the whole 118 acres of DL3040 must be purchased or is there a compromise of less land which  could be a more realistic and economical prospect?  What things should be considered to answer this question?
            The reason that people seek out the bluffs, and then return again and again is to have the experience of being very small in something that is very big.  The lush forest, the great rock cliffs, the ocean vistas all serve to transport a mere human out of their petty affairs of life and into a secluded world of natural cycles existing in apparent timeless harmony.  Somehow the dramatic scale of the geography allows greater appreciation of the fragile plants clinging to rock and crevice, and the subtle sounds of trickling water or the sea lions offshore.  One approaches the bluffs through a moist silent forest and then bursts into the exposed headlands where a variety of points of interest await.  Following the shoreline footpath eventually leads you back into a dense fir forest and through a bank of salal to another rock promontory and more ocean waves and winds.  This in and out environment repeats itself in any direction you care to take off and explore.   If you venture back from the seacoast you discover there are further tiers of bluffs to astound you.  With a little more moisture and a little less exposure these upper cliffs have decorated themselves with walls of licorice ferns and pockets of ground orchids.  The arbutus trees and shore pines have the habitat that perfectly suits their demands.  There are sloping bare rock expanses clothed with moss and reindeer lichen that can only be appreciated by seeing directly the challenge of survival these ancient plants have mastered.  They are entirely dependent on the measured release of rainwater runoff from the upland tree stands.  The stark conditions of sea bluffs are a laboratory for survival of plant species which populate the margins.  
            The Stillwater Bluffs bear scars and other evidence of the ancient carving by ice-age glaciers long before the forests took root.  The sea wind is now the chief sculptor at work and the trees facing the water are shaped with windswept gestures.  Many lie dead to decay after succumbing to a major blow.  The subject of wind brings us back to the prospect of logging on DL3040.  It boils down to this.  The quantity of ‘merchantable’ timber is small in terms of the 118 acre area because much is marginal as described above.  Furthermore the experience of visiting the bluffs and the concept of a nature park must include the forested walk in and around the site as essential to the beauty to be found here.  There are pockets of mature 2nd growth forest with supporting soils, but any attempt to log ‘selectively’ is doomed to creating a very compromised ecosystem at further risk of degrading over time.  There is a wildlife habitat to consider in the forested areas which must be retained to provide a park which has a vestige of integrity.  The intrusions required of even a selective logging operation would include haul road construction and disturbance of water runoff patterns.  The tree felling and extraction would open up wind pockets and tunnels that could be disastrous in seasons following the logging operation.  The problem of ‘blowdowns’ is well-known and predictable and it is obvious the trees here are shallow-rooted and vulnerable.  Because DL3040 is in direct alignment with every southeast gale which roars up Georgia Strait, common sense alone can foresee the potential harm of partial logging.   The presence of invasive species on DL3040 such as blackberry, broom, English ivy and others is minimal.   Logging changes all that instantly.  Standing within the existing forested areas are numerous ‘veteran’ Douglas firs and red cedars.  They are of an age which pre-dates the damaging forest fires of the 1920s.  They bear the scars of those fires and survived them.  These few veterans are genuine historic artifacts of this district and should not be considered an asset to be liquidated.   A nature park in this location must respect the fact that just a couple lifetimes ago the entire Stillwater peninsula was an awesome unbroken forest of majestic proportions.  We must preserve the best of what little there is left.
            Considering the many hundreds of acres already logged in recent years in the Stillwater area, this single remaining lot is not too much to preserve unspoiled if bio-diversity and community values are to be respected and considered important.  A public nature park must strike a balance between a space for human recreation and for conservation of an environmentally sensitive area.  Area C has a campground at Saltery Bay and a recreation site at Palm Beach.  Stillwater Bluffs needs no further amenities than to simply be left alone; it cannot be improved upon.  If that can be done it will be a rich reward for all who visit and for future generations to come.  For the reasons stated above the Friends of Stillwater Bluffs takes the position that DL3040 is indivisible.  

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Interested in reading about the Parks and Greenspace Plan, the link is here.

The implementation committee for the plan has now been formed although they are not meeting until the 18th of April. After meetings with IT this date is worrying because road building in DL 3040 could begin in the next couple months.