To our dismay, the residents of Bowen Island learned in early July 2017 that the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) had decided to pursue industrial logging of five areas in the Crown Lands on Bowen Island. A BC Timber Sales (BCTS is an organization within the Ministry) Planning Forester, Enrique Sanchez, wrote to Mayor and Council outlining the “opportunity” to develop (i.e. to log) these areas.
To our delight, on 26 July 29017 we learned that, as a result of the public outrage over these plans, BC Timber Sales is no longer considering including Bowen Island in their plans.
We had very real reasons to be concerned about the Ministry/BCTS intentions to log here. They act on behalf of the landowner, which is the Province, and have the legislation to log our Crown Lands. They were developing the planning framework for this logging, and had advertised for public consultation. They had already identified the areas open for logging, looking to be between 20-25% of the island, over a 20 year period.
Below is some information about this issue; much was eloquently phrased by our Board Member and Islands Trust Community Stewardship Award winner, Bob Turner.
An overview of information on the proposed logging
- Actions that the Conservancy asked the community to take
- What is BC Timber Sales?
- What is going on? What is being proposed?
- What will be the consequences if logging proceeds?
- Can we mitigate the consequences with a Community Forest or Woodlot?
- Look at the numbers
- What should we do?
- 9 reasons why Bowen Island should not be in the BC Timber Sales development plan
- Letters, email messages, and other resources
- Contacts for your emails and letters
Actions that the Conservancy asked the community to take
Remember this number: 3,280
The proposed annual timber cut for Bowen Island was set at 8,233 m3. This represents approximately 3,280 20 m long x 40 cm diameter trees. Every year for 20 years.
Stay on message, and pass it on
We asked the community to send a clear and simple message to BCTS: Bowen Island is not suitable for a Forest Development initiative, and so the island should be removed from the FSP.
We heard talk in early to mid July about “No logging on Bowen!”, “I’m going to lie down in front of the equipment!”, and “I’m prepared to be arrested for civil disobedience if somebody comes here to start logging!”. These are laudable sentiments, but we pointed out that the trouble with them is that that if we arrived at a stage where logging was approved and we had to take drastic measures to try to prevent it, the proverbial horse would be out of the barn. We decided to stop the initiative in its tracks. The only way to accomplish that was to have Bowen Island removed from the FSP, and that’s what was accomplished (by the entire community).
Letters and emails
We urged residents to write letters and send emails to the contacts below, making the case that logging on an industrial scale doesn’t belong on Bowen Island, and that it should be removed from the FSP. Tourism is a key element of the island economy and would be impacted severely if logging takes place here.
The BCTS Open House
We urged everybody to attend the BCTS Open House, schedule on July 30th, from 2:00 -5:30 pm, at Collins Hall.
Neighbours and your friends
We asked everybody reading this website page to ensure that neighbours and friends (both those on Bowen Island and elsewhere) knew about the threat of logging here.
What is BC Timber Sales (BCTS)?
BC Timber Sales is a semi-autonomous program within the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. It was established in 2003, and has financial and operational independence from the Ministry.
BCTS represents the interests of the provincial government in timber harvesting operations. It does this by managing the sales of forest parcels (to other organizations) where logging operations may take place, and thereby generates revenue for the province.
What is going on? What is being proposed?
BCTS started a process in mid-2017, and we were part of it, like it or not.
A new Forest Service Plan (FSP) for the “Chinook region” (that is, the Lower Mainland, including Bowen Island) is currently being prepared by BC Timber Sales. It is to be approved late in 2017. The FSP is 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).
The BCTS Open House, scheduled for the afternoon of July 30th, was supposed to provide information to our community about the FSP and the process established by BCTS. Therefore, to understand what was going on, you had to attend the Open House (at Collins Hall from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm).
We are currently in the “public review and comment” period for the draft FSP. The period started on July 4th and ends on September 6th. This means that almost a month of the period will have elapsed before Bowen Islanders are informed about the process steps, at the July 30th Open House. The Conservancy strongly objects to the way this process is being handled. There is no chance of moving the Open House, according to BCTS, because that’s when it needs to happen to allow time for public input into the FSP. BCTS have stated that they couldn’t find a venue to hold the Open House earlier. As well, 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.
After the FSP is accepted (by end of 2017), a development plan has to be put together in collaboration with the communities affected. This takes 2-3 years (possibly more). Once the development plan is put in place, BCTS can proceed with a bid process to operators wishing to log, or for a community forest or woodlot license with the community.
All five areas identified for logging here were on high ground, on each of the three “big bumps” of Bowen. Collectively they would have affected just about every part of our beautiful home.
- The “Collins Mountain” block sits above Eagle Cliff, Hood Point, and Grafton Bay, includes water supply watersheds for Hood Point, Eagle Cliff, and Grafton Bay, and directly abuts Eagle Cliff residential areas and Crippen Park
- The “Mount Gardner North” block sits above Mt Gardner Road, Mt Gardner dock area, and Grafton Lake Valley, includes watersheds of Cove Bay and Endswell Farm areas and extensive recreational trails on Mt Gardner, and directly abuts Crippen Park and the David Otter Nature Reserve
- The “Mount Gardner South” block sits above Bluewater, King Edward Bay, Bowen Bay, Sealeigh Park, and Tunstall Bay, and includes Bluewater-Bowen Bay-King Edward Bay, and Tunstall Bay water supply watersheds, as well as extensive recreational trails on Mt Gardner
- The “Radar Hill” block sits above Sunset, Fairweather, Cowan Point Estates, Cowan Point, Golf Course, and Josephine Ridge, and includes water supply watersheds for Josephine Lake and the Golf Course. It completely surrounds The Fairy Fen Nature Reserve, and directly abuts residential properties at Josephine Lake, and Cowan Point Estates
- The “Cowan Point” block sits above Cowan Point Estates, Seymour Bay, and the Golf Course, and includes the headwaters of Lee Creek water supply. It directly abuts the Cowan Point Estates and Apodaca Mountain Ecological Reserve
What will be the consequences if logging proceeds?
Industrial logging is common in coastal BC, so it is not difficult to understand the potential impacts of this scale of logging on Bowen. Impacts would be greatly amplified because we are a small island with a myriad of land uses and environmental values that are not compatible with industrial logging. Many come to mind.
- Any logging, and even the best logging, heavily damages the ecological functions of the cut forests. Wildlife habitat is lost. Recreational values can be compromised, or badly damaged. Road building intercepts natural runoff, focuses flow, increases erosion, and can lead to siltation in streams that affects water quality. Drinking water quality and stream habitat for fish and invertebrates can be damaged.
- Logging operations create noise, whether by road construction, cutting and yarding timber, or hauling, that impacts residents, visitors, recreationalists and tourism operators. Because all the proposed logging areas are on high and sloping ground, this noise will travel widely across the island.
- There will be direct visual consequences of this logging. Clear cuts create visual scars on the landscape, and many of the logged areas will be visible from many parts of the island, and nearby waters.
- Logging trucks will take space on the ferry, and sometimes that will be inconvenient for us.
- Our island brand, so much built around being a get-away and quiet place, is at extreme risk.
Can we mitigate the consequences with a Community Forest or Woodlot?
The opportunity for a Community Forest on Bowen has been raised by some. This might sound like an eco-friendly sustainability solution for the island. We suggest caution. Our understanding is that Community Forests are contractual agreements that require minimum annual timber yields. The outcome of trying to put in place a a “mom and pop” selective forestry operation is unlikely. If Bowen Island had capacity for value-added forest product enterprises, there might be a stronger argument, but we don’t. Most likely the raw logs will be exported to the mainland. The few jobs created could well be among mainland organizations. And, as other communities have discovered, Community Forest operations can divide the local populace, creating conflict between those operating and supporting it, and those impacted by its operations.
Look at the numbers
- Proposed cut for BCTS Chinook Area: 1,270,000 m3
- Proposed cut on Bowen Island (as part of the BCTS Chinook Area): 8,233 m3
- Bowen Island represents 0.6% of the total cut volume
- Loss of Bowen Island forests to the overall annual cut in the Chinook Area would hardly be noticed. But the impact on Bowen Island of logging would be huge
- 8,233 m3 of wood represents approximately 3,280 20 m long x 40 cm diameter trees
How does logging compare to tourism?
Some numbers from the BC Government and Council of Forest Industries (these are for 2015/2016).
|Total revenue||$ 12.0 B||$ 15.7 B|
|Tax collected||$ 833 M||$ 1.1 B|
|Revenue/employee||$ 62,000||$ 123,000|
What should we do?
If Bowen Island does not want this logging, we need to appeal to politicians to instruct staff to change course. The person with the most say in this regard is the Minister of FLNRO. We will have to illustrate to the Minister, both by argument and action, that Bowen Island does not want this logging. We need to present good reasons why industrial logging does not fit Bowen Island; that it just does not make sense to compromise the economy, values, quality of life, and environmental attributes of this community for modest revenues to the Provincial coffers. We need to communicate that we are passionate about this, that we will make our case heard, and we will do what is necessary to oppose the logging.
We have a long road ahead. We will see what a bunch of plucky islanders can do. Writing letters to politicians does matter. As a start we suggest that letters of concern should be addressed to the person who ultimately will decide this issue, the Minister of FLNRO, with a copy to other politicians with influence: MLA Jordan Sturdy, Bowen Island Mayor and Council, and the Chair of the Islands Trust. Copy the letter to BCTS staff so that they are alerted to your arguments and opposition, but also so that they know that this is not just an operational issue for them–that this issue has “gone political”.
9 reasons why Bowen Island should not be in the BC Timber Sales development plan
- Bowen is a small island, with populated areas adjacent to every block of Crown Land
- Bowen Island 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 rest of BC
- The Bowen Island 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 which are proposed for forest 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 will 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 will 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 father afield is likely to be significant
Letters, email messages, and other resources
- 2017-07-10: Letter from Andre Chollat, Bowen Island Resident, to Mayor and Council
- 2017-07-16: Letter from the Bowen Island Conservancy to BC Timber Sales concerning their Forest Development Initiative for Bowen Island
- 2017-07-17: Letter from Mayor Murray Skeels to BC Timber Sales concerning their Forest Development Initiative for Bowen Island
- 2017-07-17: Letter from BC Timber Sales in response to letter from Andrew Brownsword, Bowen Island resident
- 2017-07-17: Letter from Anne Chollat, Bowen Island Resident, to BC Timber Sales
- 2017-07-19: Vancouver Sun article about the Bowen Island logging initiative
- 2017-07-20: CBC article about the Bowen Island logging initiative (this article provides a link to the CBC Morning edition radio interview with Mayor Murray Skeels)
- 2017-07-20: Letter from Bas Brusche, Bowen Island resident, to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
- 2017-07-24: Email message from Eric Waschke, Bowen Island resident, to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
- 2017-07-26: Letter from Mal Hoskin, Bowen Island resident, to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
- The Crown Lands of Bowen Island: an inventory and assessment of resources and values, prepared by Julian Dunster in November 2000.
- Waterscape Bowen Island: A Geological Survey of Canada Report on our water on Bowen Island
- “Defend Island Forests” website, created by a group of Bowen Island individuals, where you may sign up for email updates on the Forest Development initiative and our efforts to have Bowen Island removed from the FDP.
Contacts for your emails and letters
Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations
- Honourable Doug Donaldson
Minister of Forests, Lands, & Natural Resource Operations
PO Box 9049 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
Email address: FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
- Jason Fisher
Associate Deputy Minister – Forest Sector
Ministry of Forests, Lands, & Natural Resource Operations
PO Box 9352 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9M1
Email address: Jason.Fisher@gov.bc.ca
Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture
- Honourable Lisa Beare
Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture
Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
- Honourable George Heyman
Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
Email address: ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Office of the Premier
- Premier John Horgan
PO Box 9041, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
Email address: email@example.com
BC Timber Sales
- Mike Falkiner
BC Timber Sales
PO Box 9507 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9C2
Email address: Mike.Falkiner@gov.bc.ca
- Enrique Sanchez
Planning Forester, Chinook Business Area
BC Timber Sales
46360 Airport Road
Chilliwack, BC V2P 1A5
Email address: Enrique.Sanchez@gov.bc.ca
Provincial Government, Islands Trust, Islands Trust Fund, and Metro Vancouver
- Jordan Sturdy
MLA, West Vancouver-Sea to Sky
6392 Bay Street
West Vancouver, BC V7W 2G9
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Peter Luckham
Trust Council Chair
The Islands Trust
200 – 1627 Fort Street
Victoria, BC V8R 1H8
Email address: email@example.com
- Tony Law
Chair, Trust Fund Board
Islands Trust Fund
200-1627 Fort Street
Victoria, BC V8R 1H8
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neil Carley
General Manager, Parks, Planning and Environment
Burnaby, BC V5H 4G8
Email address: Neal.Carley@metrovancouver.org
- Mayor and Council
Bowen Island Municipality
981 Artisan Lane
Bowen Island, BC V0N 1G2
Email address: email@example.com
- The Editor
Bowen Island Undercurrent
495 Bowen Island Trunk Rd #102
Bowen Island, BC V0N 1G0
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, MP
Confederation Building, Room 583
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
Email address: Pam.Goldsmith-Jones@parl.gc.ca