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North Cowichan to review low penalties for tree poaching

CHEK News reports on the issue

North Cowichan said Friday it is conducting a review of its bylaw penalties for illegal cutting of trees following the discovery of valuable cedars taken from Stoney Hill.

Under the Forest Use Bylaw, the offence entitled “remove forest products without permit” carries a fine of just $200 — the same as for littering — even though trees stolen from the Municipal Forest Reserve can be worth thousands of dollars.

In a statement Friday, the Municipality said: “Given recent events we are reviewing fines associated with the Forest Use Bylaw in consultation with our bylaw services team and legal counsel.”

On Monday, April 19, sixmountains.ca discovered the poaching of trees — including two valuable cedars — in the forest reserve on Stoney Hill.

The Municipality has since posted new signs in the area warning against unauthorized wood cutting.

CHEK News video journalist Skye Ryan also visited the tree-poaching site on Friday. Her report can be viewed at: https://bit.ly/2QVzNXq.

A rough count of the rings on the largest cedar stump suggested an age of about 87 years. Other smaller trees/logs were sawed in the same area. What appears to be all-terrain vehicle tracks lead from the cutting site through the forest to a rough-made road access.

Cedar is valuable wood, fetching a market price of about $300 per cubic metre.

Currently, there is a moratorium on logging in the 5,000-hectare forest reserve. Public consultations are on hold while secret talks continue with local First Nations.

Anyone witnessing or having knowledge of tree poaching in the reserve should call 911 or municipal hall at 250-746-3106.

— Larry Pynn, April 24, 2021

Al Siebring photo _edited.jpg