Preservation groups alarmed by Muir Creek clear cut

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - 1:00am
Sooke News Mirror

The Muir Creek Protection Society is one component of a joint media event held last Monday at the Best Western Hotel in Victoria.

The publicity effort was held in concert with the Wilderness Committee and the Sierra Club of B.C. and the main point made was the urgent nature of establishing regional park status for the Muir Creek Watershed.

A press release issued that day proclaimed, in part, “best opportunity for a new old-growth park in the Capital Regional District (CRD) being squandered as TimberWest logs Muir Creek Watershed at breakneck speed.”

Environmentalists are advocating for the logging to stop, citing some increasingly rare attributes of the area.

The area is said to be home to “the most magnificent stand of old-growth forest on private land near Victoria and the CRD.” Also touted is the salmon spawning occurring in the area and the fact that it’s home to various species-at-risk.

The mouth of Muir Creek is about 12 kilometres west of Sooke and the logging is taking place several kilometres inland/upstream.

Alanda Carver, president of the Muir Creek Protection Society, is hopeful the process of designating the area as parkland can be expedited. She indicated the idea has been broached and regional district interest in the plan expressed. The property would first need to be acquired by the CRD.

According to spokesperson Steve Lorimer the idea was familiar to TimberWest.

“We’ve been in discussions over some period of time with CRD Parks,” said Lorimer. “And that area has fairly recently been put on one of their future planning maps as an area of interest.”

The environmental lobby points to a meeting held last July, at which community leaders, CRD parks personnel, Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks and others made a unified request that TimberWest discontinue logging “while the feasibility of a park was explored.” The request has apparently not curtailed the timber harvest.

Lorimer said the trees being cut are second growth and not in the old growth areas near the mouth of the creek.

The CRD, currently lacking dedicated regional parkland west of Sooke, has apparently considered doing something about it and Muir Creek has been the subject of acquisition discussions.

For his part, Hicks has come out in favour of seeking funding for more parkland.

“I will continue to lobby my fellow parks committee members for the protection of Muir Creek as a number one priority,” says the regional director.

Making the point that no deals were cooking, Lorimer then indicated the company would be open to considering any serious offers.

“TimberWest is blatantly disregarding the wants of the community and the CRD to turn Muir Creek into a park,” noted Wilderness Committee Forest and Marine Campaigner Tara Sawatsky in a Nov. 23 press release.

“Were not involved in any negotiations to acquire the property at this time,” said Jeff Ward, CRD manager of planning, resource management and development on Nov. 25. Ward said the board is considering a 10 year extension to a land acquisition fund which had been established in 2000.

“It ends this year,” he said. “The proposal they put forward is that the acquisition fund be increased from 12 dollars to 20 dollars over the next five years.”

That means the cost per household would creep up $2 per year until 2014, then stay at $20 per year until 2019.

Ward said it’s proposed that the matter be considered by the board at its December 9 meeting.

Alanda Carver is hopeful something can be done soon in the way of park designation for the creek.

“It’s not that they’ve cut everything, that’s not the case at all,” said Carver on Nov. 25. “There are still lots of reasons to protect Muir Creek but the thing is, if they keep going back there and taking and taking and taking, there’s only so much that the creek can sustain. If it takes too long for the CRD to act, we’re going to lose a treasure. That’s the only way to describe it.”

The Muir Creek Protection Society is one component of a joint media event held last Monday at the Best Western Hotel in Victoria.

The publicity effort was held in concert with the Wilderness Committee and the Sierra Club of B.C. and the main point made was the urgent nature of establishing regional park status for the Muir Creek Watershed.

A press release issued that day proclaimed, in part, “best opportunity for a new old-growth park in the Capital Regional District (CRD) being squandered as TimberWest logs Muir Creek Watershed at breakneck speed.”

Environmentalists are advocating for the logging to stop, citing some increasingly rare attributes of the area.

The area is said to be home to “the most magnificent stand of old-growth forest on private land near Victoria and the CRD.” Also touted is the salmon spawning occurring in the area and the fact that it’s home to various species-at-risk.

The mouth of Muir Creek is about 12 kilometres west of Sooke and the logging is taking place several kilometres inland/upstream.

Alanda Carver, president of the Muir Creek Protection Society, is hopeful the process of designating the area as parkland can be expedited. She indicated the idea has been broached and regional district interest in the plan expressed. The property would first need to be acquired by the CRD.

According to spokesperson Steve Lorimer the idea was familiar to TimberWest.

“We’ve been in discussions over some period of time with CRD Parks,” said Lorimer. “And that area has fairly recently been put on one of their future planning maps as an area of interest.”

The environmental lobby points to a meeting held last July, at which community leaders, CRD parks personnel, Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks and others made a unified request that TimberWest discontinue logging “while the feasibility of a park was explored.” The request has apparently not curtailed the timber harvest.

Lorimer said the trees being cut are second growth and not in the old growth areas near the mouth of the creek.

The CRD, currently lacking dedicated regional parkland west of Sooke, has apparently considered doing something about it and Muir Creek has been the subject of acquisition discussions.

For his part, Hicks has come out in favour of seeking funding for more parkland.

“I will continue to lobby my fellow parks committee members for the protection of Muir Creek as a number one priority,” says the regional director.

Making the point that no deals were cooking, Lorimer then indicated the company would be open to considering any serious offers.

“TimberWest is blatantly disregarding the wants of the community and the CRD to turn Muir Creek into a park,” noted Wilderness Committee Forest and Marine Campaigner Tara Sawatsky in a Nov. 23 press release.

“Were not involved in any negotiations to acquire the property at this time,” said Jeff Ward, CRD manager of planning, resource management and development on Nov. 25. Ward said the board is considering a 10 year extension to a land acquisition fund which had been established in 2000.

“It ends this year,” he said. “The proposal they put forward is that the acquisition fund be increased from 12 dollars to 20 dollars over the next five years.”

That means the cost per household would creep up $2 per year until 2014, then stay at $20 per year until 2019.

Ward said it’s proposed that the matter be considered by the board at its December 9 meeting.

Alanda Carver is hopeful something can be done soon in the way of park designation for the creek.

“It’s not that they’ve cut everything, that’s not the case at all,” said Carver on Nov. 25. “There are still lots of reasons to protect Muir Creek but the thing is, if they keep going back there and taking and taking and taking, there’s only so much that the creek can sustain. If it takes too long for the CRD to act, we’re going to lose a treasure. That’s the only way to describe it.”

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