Veteran award-winning columnist Don Maroc denounces clearcutting, supports ecoforestry in North Cowichan
As a well-known and opinionated columnist in the Cowichan Valley for years, Don Maroc wasn’t one to pull his punches.
But there is one topic he avoided criticizing — clearcut logging — even though he harboured concerns about its environmental impacts.
“Nobody did because it was sacred here,” Maroc, 93, told sixmountains.ca over coffee in Duncan.
“That was maybe a wrong attitude. But it made the whole place work. That’s what they convinced us. It was bullshit.
“We could have had just as many people working, doing different things in the forest.”
Maroc lives on the eastern flank of Swuq’us/Mt Prevost — one of the Six Mountains in the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve.
On this morning, he wears a blue-denim shirt embroidered on the shoulders. “This one goes back to the ‘60s. My wife’s mother did this for me. I’ve got half a dozen of them.”
In that sense, his wardrobe may be more sustainable than continued logging of our coastal Douglas-fir forest — the most at-risk forest type in the province, according to the BC Forests Ministry.
“My personal attitude towards logging is not a positive one,” Maroc continues.
“In one sentence, I would absolutely stop any clearcutting. Right here in that forest reserve, no more clearcutting. That’s nonsense.”
His concern is that it puts profit ahead of the environment.
“There’s no ecological reasons for clearcutting. It’s not only destructive of the trees, you destroy the earth because you use all the machinery, tear the hell out of everything.”
Born in the U.S., in an industrial area south of Chicago, Maroc had a career as an electrician before joining the Cowichan News Leader.
(The Cowichan News Leader Pictorial closed in 2015).
Maroc received a Ma Murray Community Newspaper Award in 2003 for his column, View From The Left, which reflects his politics. He’s always been a strong advocate of local agriculture.
Maroc believes the Municipal Forest Reserve should be managed along the lines of the late Merv Wilkinson’s Wildwood forest near Cedar.
An Order of Canada recipient who died in 2011, Wilkinson practiced ecoforestry rather than industrial logging.
According to the Ecoforestry Institute Society (ecoforestry.ca), trustee of Wildwood, Wilkinson harvested trees about once every five years, rather than annually, to reduce impact on the forest.
Trees to be harvested were selected on the basis of the soil, light, and density needs of the forest.
He also diversified the products he derived from his forest, and had lumber milled on site that was often used in the local community, according to the society.
Wilkinson retained some of the large prime trees to serve as seed sources and always depended on natural regeneration, rather than on growing and planting out tree seedlings plantation-style.
“It’s well documented,” Maroc says. “If you want to continue the resource you don’t take the biggest and best of everything.”
Sharon Jackson, administrator of the Facebook page Cowichan Conversations and a former Duncan councillor, described Maroc as “an irascible man who has lived an astonishing life.
“He has accomplished much and has met and influenced many people along the way.”
Jackson met Maroc soon after moving to Vancouver Island 30 years ago. “A good friend to the late Richard Hughes, I spent much of one party talking to them both and they convinced me to run for council.
“The next 22 years (as councillor) changed my life.”
Jackson described Maroc as an “adventurer, a writer, a farmer, a dreamer and a man of decided opinion, which he does not hesitate to share with anyone who will stand still long enough to hear it.”
The extended deadline for filling out an on-line survey on the future of the Municipal Forest Reserve is Jan. 31.
There are two logging and two conservation scenarios.
The survey takes only a few minutes to fill out.
Visit https://bit.ly/3CojbMU .
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(Larry Pynn photos: Don Maroc; cedar trees at Wildwood; clearcut in Municipal Forest Reserve)
— Larry Pynn, Jan. 30, 2023