Jeff Brown says he is at a bit of a loss as to what to do about clear cutting around Apex Mountain Resort and the residential area.
Brown, chair of the Apex Property Owners Association Forestry Committee, said there has already been 1,500 hectares of clear cut over the last decade, a number he expects to double in the next six years after looking at Weyerhaeuser Canada’s plans for the areas.
Brown said it has been a frustrating process, trying to convince forestry companies to adopt harvesting practices that are more compatible with a recreation area.
“The industry has basically said that clear cutting is the only option they will consider, and they have been doing a lot of it,” said Brown. “They are going to take the current acreage of clear cut and then double it in seven years.”
That is going to be the subject of a public information forum at the Apex Mountain day lodge on Feb. 28 at 4 p.m.
The key issue is the location of upcoming harvesting, which Brown said falls into the Apex Intensive recreation area, as defined on the Okanagan Shuswap land resource management plan, especially affecting the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, which has grown in popularity as a cross-country skiing and snowshoeing destination.
“In the last five years, we have seen snowshoeing just explode as a sport. Everyday there are people up there snowshoeing and the weekends the parking lots are packed full,” said Brown, who explained there are specific cuts being planned in the core of the cross-country area.
“If those three cuts go ahead, Nickel Plate will actually be 360 degrees surrounded by clear cuts. I can’t consider that accommodating the recreation in the area,” said Brown. “No cross-country skier would look at those cuts and say this is acceptable. It basically annihilates all the trails.”
Brown said the association would like to see harvesting volumes reduced to match the life cycle of the forest.
“With a hundred year growth cycle, having 40 per cent of the trees cut in 20-year period is not sustainable,” he said. “We are not on the coast, it is a very slow-growing forest up there.”
Brown said this is an industry desperate for trees, and one that does respond to public embarrassment.
“That’s plan one. The government has basically become hands-off on a major industry and we need to get that changed,” said Brown. “We need to start protecting what we have and we do that through public relations.”
Wayne Roznowsky, public affairs manager for Weyerhaeuser Canada, said they have no plans for logging in the area around the Nordic Centre.
“We do, however, have future harvest plans in the Winters Creek, Stray Horse Creek and Cahill Creek areas,” said Roznowsky, who noted the area is designated as a their operating area.
Roznowsky added, that if asked, Weyerhaeuser would be willing to participate in the Feb. 28 meeting.