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What price investigative journalism in the Cowichan Valley? Consider a contribution to sixmountains.ca.

As sixmountains.ca approaches a milestone of 50,000 “unique visitors,” now is the time to reflect upon accomplishments of the past four years — and to consider financial support for strong, independent reporting.

sixmountains.ca has become the main source for investigative articles on not just North Cowichan’s 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve, but on politics, environment, and other important issues in the greater Cowichan Valley.

Here are just a few headlines from the many exclusive news stories published at sixmountains.ca:

— Province receives 'violation reports' of 55 elk deaths in Cowichan Valley over two years

— Natural Resource Officers hard-pressed to keep up with tree poaching in Cowichan Valley

— Town’s sewage discharge part of fish-kill investigation on Cowichan River

— North Cowichan councillor Bruce Findlay ordered to pay $170,960 for strata ‘misrepresentations’

— Duncan man fined $150,000 for securities fraud donated to two pro-development candidates in North Cowichan

— Cowichan Works fined $750 by Elections BC for campaign advertising violation

— Status-quo cutting in forest reserve would amount to 500+ logging trucks

Several articles caught the eye of other news outlets, including The Tyee, which reprinted the story headlined, 'Coastal Douglas-fir forest logged to create Cowichan’s largest vineyard.' Public interest in the issue generated a follow-up article, 'Loss of imperilled forest to vineyard sparks debate on farming and biodiversity.'

When sixmountains.ca uncovered poaching of western red cedars on Stoney Hill and beyond, other news outlets followed: CBC’s The National and The Current, The Guardian, CHEK News, The Times Colonist…. That same article helped result in higher fines for violations in the Municipal Forest Reserve — home to the most endangered forest type in BC, the coastal Douglas-fir.

Some articles on the Cowichan Valley also appeared exclusively in The Globe and Mail, including stories on illegal activities on public logging roads, and the negative impact of social media on parks and ecologically sensitive areas.

On the issue of politics, sixmountains.ca provided the lion’s share of coverage of the 2022 municipal election, and plans to do the same in the 2024 provincial election — asking the tough questions and holding politicians accountable.

We live in an era in which people are accustomed to getting their news for free. Note that sixmountains.ca charges subscribers nothing, has not posted ads, and has not put up a paywall for access to articles.

But know there is nothing free about quality journalism. Investigative reporting — especially — takes time, money and perseverance.

sixmountains.ca incurs considerable costs: maintaining and managing a website; purchase of a drone; keeping a physical presence in the Six Mountains to monitor activity; and obtaining potentially pricey freedom-of-information and other government documents.

The B.C. government recently demanded $810 for the release of data on elk deaths from Nanoose Bay to Cowichan Valley. The range of the request was narrowed, and the fee was reduced to $360 for data that should have been publicly available free of charge.

At the federal level, an access-to-information request to Fisheries and Oceans Canada related to the killing of seals and seal lions in our waters has taken more than one year — and remains unresolved.

sixmountains.ca wants to extend a special thanks to those readers who have donated to this blog over the past four years. These individuals appreciate that it takes thousands of unpaid hours — and sometimes personal risk — to research and write articles that would often appear nowhere else.

These are tight financial times for many people. Rest assured that sixmountains.ca isn’t going anywhere. It will continue to publish, with readers under no financial obligation.

But also understand that with your support, we can accomplish so much more.

For those who are able, please consider a donation to help offset the ongoing costs of publication and to help expand coverage. Joining and investing in a valuable public service will reap dividends and maintain and improve the quality of life we enjoy in the Cowichan Valley.

Thanks so much for your consideration.

July 2, 2024

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