Enviro groups and Indigenous leaders condemn logging of rare old-growth rainforest by BC government
Clear-cut logging underway in Schmidt Creek, near globally-renowned orca rubbing beaches
The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC have visited Schmidt Creek and confirmed logging has begun in BC Timber Sales (BCTS) cut blocks in the valley. The blocks, all located on steep slopes, were auctioned off this spring, sparking concern over the potential for landslides so close to important orca rubbing beaches at nearby Robson Bight.
Schmidt Creek is located in Tlowitsis-Ma’amtagila territories, draining into Johnstone Strait between Sayward and Telegraph Cove on northeastern Vancouver Island.
“This type of logging does not have the blessing of the title holders and rightful stewards of these valleys,” said Rande Cook, Head Chief Makwala, Hamatam (Seagull) House, Ma’amtagila. “Non-Indigenous governments and institutions like BCTS need to understand that this type of reckless logging is not sustainable or respectful.”
BCTS is a stand-alone agency of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development that manages around 20 per cent of the annual cut on provincial land.
“The clear-cutting underway right now is happening on steep slopes where there was evidence of heavy erosion and landslides even before any logging and road building,” said Vancouver Island Campaigner Torrance Coste, for the Wilderness Committee. “The B.C. government is putting water quality, orcas and sensitive ecosystems at risk with its logging operation and that’s something everyone in B.C. needs to be aware of.”
Past logging elsewhere in Schmidt Creek by Lemare Lake Logging has had significant impacts in the watershed and the risk of more serious landslides so close to orca-rubbing beaches has local whale experts worried. Lemare is the prime contractor for the current round of BCTS cut blocks.
“Lemare Lake Logging is doing this logging for BCTS and they have one of the worst environmental and safety reputations on the coast,” said Mark Worthing, Conservation and Climate Campaigner for Sierra Club BC. “Premier Horgan and Minister Donaldson have a duty to ensure the environment and the public interest are protected and we’re not seeing that in Schmidt Creek and neighbouring valleys with remaining old growth.”
Less than 10 per cent of productive, low-elevation old-growth rainforests remain on Vancouver Island and the species, Indigenous cultural practices and sustainable tourism activities that depend on them are at risk.
In its 2017 election platform, the BC NDP promised to, “apply an evidence-based scientific approach to land-use planning, using the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model for managing old-growth forests.” The B.C. government has not yet made any progress toward implementing this election commitment.
Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee and the Ancient Forest Alliance, along with thousands of citizens, have called on Premier John Horgan and forests minister Doug Donaldson to protect remaining old-growth rainforests in areas like Schmidt, the Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni and the Manning Park Donut Hole on the mainland. The B.C. government has ignored these calls to date.
Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC activists weren’t able to document most of the recent cutblocks in Schmidt Creek as logging is still underway, but the groups plan to return to the valley in coming weeks.
Click here for more photos of Schmidt Creek.
For more information, please contact:
Torrance Coste | Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
Mark Worthing | Conservation and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC