A new Forest Service Plan
In mid-summer of 2017 we learned that a new Forest Service Plan (FSP) for the “Chinook region” (that is, the Lower Mainland, including Bowen Island) was being prepared by BC Timber Sales (BCTS: a branch of the BC Government which manages about 20 per cent of the province’s allowable annual cut for Crown/public timber).
The FSP was to be approved late in 2017. It’s a very technical and detailed 179 page document and establishes the “rules of engagement” around timber harvesting activities in the region (e.g. what’s to be done about watershed protection, trail impact, and so on).
BCTS scheduled an Open House for the afternoon of July 30th, 2017. The purpose of this Open House was to provide information to the Bowen Island community about the FSP and the process established by BCTS. The Open House was also the initial (and only public) opportunity to provide feedback to BCTS on their ideas about logging on Bowen Island.
The “public review and comment” period for the draft FSP started on July 4th and was to end on September 6th. Almost a month of the period would have elapsed before Bowen Islanders were able to attend the July 30th Open House: in practical terms a month of the public review and comment period would have elapsed before the community learned more and was informed about how they might object to the prospect of industrial logging on Bowen Island. BCTS is expecting ordinary folk to review and comment on what they have stated is a very technical and complex document, and to do this at the height of summer, when residents are often away on vacation of occupieed with visitors. The Conservancy strongly objected to the way BCTS was managing their engagement process.
We requested that Bowen Island be removed from the BCTS FSP
On July 16th, 2017, we wrote to BC Timber Sales, expressing concern over the way that they were providing information to the Bowen Island community, and pointing out that Bowen Island is not suitable for an industrial-scale timber harvesting initiative. We requested that they remove the island from the list of potential timber harvesting areas in the FSP.
We backed up our request by pointing out the following:
- Bowen Island is a small island, with populated areas adjacent to every block of Crown Land
- It is located within the Islands Trust area, which was established to preserve and protect the area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of residents of the area and of the province generally
- The community has just completed an extensive and expensive process that defined its brand, which centres on the island’s peacefulness and unspoiled natural environment, as well as its suitability as a get-away from Vancouver and other parts of the Lower Mainland
- Bowen Island has an extensive and heavily-used trail network that extends through the Crown Lands, used by residents and visitors from elsewhere
- Many of the parcels proposed for BCTS development purposes include important water-supply watersheds for residential areas. Impacts of logging on water availability and quality are likely
- At least two of the parcels are adjacent to Nature Reserves owned by the Islands Trust Fund. The idea of logging operations taking place a short distance from these reserves is disquieting
- The impact of logging operations on wildlife would be magnified on Bowen Island, since the Island is small and is relatively urbanized: there is nowhere else for wildlife to go
- Ferry congestion resulting from logging trucks and other vehicles used in logging operations would interfere with commuters, as well as the ferry schedule
- The impact of logging operations on Bowen Island’s tourism economy, which attracts visitors not only from the Lower Mainland but elsewhere in BC and farther afield would be significant
The cumulative effects of any logging operations, therefore, would be too much for Bowen Island, and would also have a negative impact on all British Columbians.
We were relieved and gratified when, on July 26th, 2017, we received the following message from BC Timber Sales:
BC Timber Sales (BCTS)–Chinook is cancelling the open house scheduled for July 30, 2017 on Bowen Island. BCTS-Chinook has decided to remove Bowen Island (Salish Forest Development Unit) from its current Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) proposal, since there are no immediate or mid-term harvest plans for the island, and Bowen Island residents have expressed a desire to develop a community engagement strategy that will exceed the timeframe required for approval of the FSP
Enrique Sánchez, R.P.F
British Columbia Timber Sales
Chinook Business Area
Tel: 604-702-5748 Fax: 604-702-5711