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Penelakut Tribe reveals woodlot-licence plan for Chemainus River watershed

The Penelakut Tribe has unveiled a draft 10-year plan for a 801.98-hectare woodlot on Crown land within the Chemainus River watershed.

The woodlot — four times the size of the City of Duncan — extends to the boundary of 119-hectare Chemainus River Provincial Park, on the back side of Mount Prevost.

A legal newspaper ad announced the plan for “two units located north of Duncan on lands between Mt. Sicker/Mt. Prevost and the Chemainus River.”

Chemainus River park features big trees and deep pools, is co-managed with Cowichan Valley Regional District, and can be accessed along a very rough logging road off Highway 18.

Cody Gold of Econ Consulting told sixmountains.ca that he does not expect significant visual-quality issues with the logging, adding he doubts people will see the clearcuts from Highway 18 or the Trans Canada Highway.

There are public concerns that increased logging in the upper watershed may increase the chance of flooding of communities and roads in the lower reaches.

Gold said there is no watershed assessment for the woodlot and no full inventory of all watercourses. While there may be “cumulative impacts to water flow,” he said, overall “it doesn’t strike me as a significant contributor” to flooding in the overall watershed.

The woodlot represents about eight square kilometers or about two per cent of the 355-square-kilometer Chemainus River watershed, Gold said, adding only about 35 hectares of the woodlot would be harvested every five years.

Riparian buffers would range from 20 to 50 meters depending on stream classification, and the terrain is relatively gentle, he said.

The draft woodlot plan does not specifically set out proposed harvest sites.

But it says “there are no areas where timber harvesting will be avoided,” noting eight per cent of the area will be left for “wildlife tree retention” through patch logging. Also, to the “greatest extent practicable,” efforts will be made to protect Indigenous cultural sites.

Local First Nations will continue to have access to western red cedar.

The draft adds: “There are community and/or domestic water supply intakes and/or related water supply infrastructure within the WLP area or nearby (i.e. within 100m) that could be affected by operations carried out under this plan.”

Gold noted that logging has occurred previously in the woodlot dating back decades, and that this draft plan is a preliminary document for future logging and would not kick in until 2022.

The logging plan can be viewed at: https://ln2.sync.com/dl/f24f05e90/gwwm6ubh-wa6nnzzw-6kbkpfgp-ciafqd93/view/doc/8112170320000

Send your comments this week to mail@econ.ca, after which the plan may be modified before it goes to the Ministry of Forests for approval.

The Tribe is mainly based on Penelakut Island (formerly Kuper Island) off Chemainus and has about 1,000 members; its reserve lands extend to Galiano Island, Tent Island and Tsussie, a small reserve south of Chemainus.

For more information: https://www.fnmhf.ca/english/participating_fn/participating_fn_075.html

(photo: Chemainus River Provincial Park)

— Larry Pynn, June 1, 2020





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