Cowichan Valley officials seek widespread government action to protect old growth
The Cowichan Watershed Board is urging the provincial government to legislate protection of old growth on privately managed forest lands in the Cowichan Valley.
A joint submission by board co-chairs Chief William Seymour of Cowichan Tribes and Aaron Stone of Cowichan Valley Regional District states that with ownership of private forest lands comes a “high degree of responsibility” to the greater community.
They add: “A significant proportion of old growth forests in B.C. have been used to support economic initiatives and in… the Cowichan Valley nearly all the old forests are gone.”
Logging, agriculture, and urban and rural development have all taken their toll.
The board submission notes that summer water flows are 50-per-cent less in younger stands compared with old forests and emphasizes that “protection of and recruitment for old forests” in both the Koksilah and Cowichan rivers is required.
The board also urges the province to:
• Revise current targets for old-growth retention with the help of experts, including those with academic and Indigenous knowledge.
• Suspend old-growth logging in the coastal Douglas-fir eco zone. (The 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve falls within this endangered landscape and has no old growth).
• Suspend logging of old-growth cedar.
• Provide regular reporting on old-growth protection in B.C.
The board submission goes to the province’s Old Growth Strategic Review panel, created in July to allow the public, organizations and professionals to comment on old-growth issues.
The two panel members are Garry Merkel, a professional forester, natural resource expert, and member of the Tahltan Nation, and Al Gorley, a professional forester and former chair of the Forest Practices Board.
The panel is expected to present its recommendations later this year.
— Larry Pynn, March 24, 2020 (photo from San Juan River)