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North Cowichan investigates ‘poaching’ of trees at Stoney Hill

Valuable cedars cut and removed

By Larry Pynn

 

North Cowichan is investigating the removal of trees — including two valuable cedars — in the Municipal Forest Reserve on Stoney Hill as a poaching case.

 

“We will investigate right away,” a municipal official said Wednesday. “There is certainly no authorized cutting in the Stoney Hill area and it would appear these trees have been cut and removed illegally.”

 

sixmountains.ca discovered the tree cutting this week by chance. A rough count of the rings on the largest cedar stump suggested an age of about 87 years, which predates the start of the Second World War by five years. 

 

Other smaller trees were also cut in the same general area on Stoney Hill. What appears to be all-terrain vehicle tracks lead from the cutting site through the forest to a rough-made road access.

 

The Municipality said “we regularly patrol and put signage up throughout the MFR but it is often ripped down. We will double check the signage in the area and replace as needed.” 

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There is a faded municipal road sign — posted on a tree, not far from where the cedars were taken — warning against “unauthorized wood cutting.” The phone on the sign currently goes to the planning department.

 

The Municipality added that “we continue to patrol daily. The patrol efforts along with the continued community support appear to be working as we have seen a decrease in activity.”

 

News reports in February this year highlighted tree poaching elsewhere in the forest reserve, including the Chemainus area, Mount Prevost and Mount Sicker.

 

There was a suggestion at that time that the trees were being cut for firewood, but that would not be the case with cedar, a valuable wood in the forest industry.

 

The current market price for cedar is about $300 per cubic meter.

 

Lumber prices generally have also been soaring and are not expected to drop significantly any time soon. https://bit.ly/32yWJye

 

Anyone witnessing or with knowledge of tree poaching in the 5,000-hectare forest reserve should call 911 or municipal hall at 250-746-3106, depending on the circumstances.

 

— Larry Pynn, April 21, 2021