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Cortes Island logging alarms petitioners

Jan 11 2012
Map showing planned logging areas on Cortest Island 

Map showing planned logging areas on Cortest Island

Photograph by: Staff, timescolonist.com

Imminent logging on Cortes Island has unsettled many residents of the tiny community east of Campbell River.

Nanaimo-based Island Timberlands plans to log three parcels of its property - amounting to about 60 hectares - but a group of activists wants to have some control over the logging strategy.

Wildstands Alliance formed a couple years ago when word of Island Timberlands' intentions became known. In the past two weeks, members have collected nearly 6,000 signatures on a petition that its authors say aims to preserve the healthy ecosystem on Cortes, protect oldgrowth Douglas fir and retain sensitive watersheds and wetlands.

Island Timberlands spokeswoman Morgan Kennah said the company is already bound by similar obligations under federal and provincial forest management regulations.

"We manage the watersheds that feed the City of Nanaimo and Alberni," Kennah said.

"We definitely have an intense set of practices that we follow. And we work with communities when it comes to key public values - and water is definitely one of them."

Island Timberlands plans to log portions of their properties that are in pockets throughout the Island. One parcel is near Gorge Bay, a second is closer to Blue Jay Lake and the third is near Squirrel Cove. Each parcel is about 20 hectares.

Plans to log Cortes have attracted off-island attention. Those 6,000 petition signatures far exceed the 1,000 residents who live on the Island year-round.

Wildstands members tried to work with Island Timberlands to create an alternate logging method, but those suggestions have been rejected, according to member Zoe Miles, who grew up on Cortes.

"We made presentations to them trying to create a model that's progressive, where every one benefits, but they have been very adamant that they're not willing to look at those kind of solutions with us," Miles said.

The group also has tried unsuccessfully to buy some of the land.

Island Timberlands held a meeting on Dec. 2 to discuss details of its plan with the 80 to 100 people in attendance.

The company would not confirm where the logs will be shipped, but mills on the B.C. coast are the "most regular customers," Kennah said.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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