Mosaic Forest Management plans to go ahead with logging plans near Langley Lake sometime over the summer.
Union Bay and Comox Valley Regional District representatives had called for logging to be put on hold for work on a watershed plan, but company representatives have told the CVRD board it is confident of its plans to protect the watershed while logging.
“We will attempt the complete harvest in the dry season,” Molly Hudson, Mosaic’s director of sustainability, told the CVRD board at a meeting on June 29.
Hudson outlined on a map the plans for two roughly nine-hectare, second-growth blocks. The closest the work will come to the lake, which provides drinking water for Union Bay, is about 600 metres, with other parts extending to a kilometre or more away.
“There’s no water in these blocks today,” she said. “There are ephemeral, non-fish streams.”
She stressed the creek beds are currently dry, so conducting harvesting during the summer should reduce the chance of any effects on the lake. They will also haul away the timber in the opposite direction from the lake.
The company reiterated the point that it wanted to hold off any harvesting plans until the Union Bay community’s new water treatment plant was operational. Mosaic representatives said they operate in 34 community watersheds on the island and are prevented by provincial legislation from negatively affecting water quality.
“We can’t control the water source, but we can manage that risk,” said David Beleznay, Mosaic’s manager for hydrology and terrain.
Area A director Daniel Arbour credited the company foresters and staff but reiterated concerns he has had with logging near the lake. He has called for logging plans to be deferred so local government and company can come up up with a more detailed watershed plan.
Arbour also said he could foresee some opportunities such as working toward some kind of carbon credit program with the company.
“I believe a project could be supported through local governments,” he said.
Other members of the CVRD board had issues with suggestions the logging practices represented the “best science” available in terms of methods. Chair Jesse Ketler said this description seems to fit within the practices of clear-cut logging, and she suggested other means such as selective logging or heli-logging might be better.
Hudson responded the company uses many different methods to harvest timber, adding that certain methods are designed to promote the reforestation of seedlings.
“We harvest in a whole bunch of different ways across the landscape,” she said. “These decisions are not made solely from a cost perspective.”
As part of the presentation, the Mosaic representatives outlined the company’s stewardship work to protect forests and watersheds, which includes working with different organizations for environment enhancement and certification.
“It’s a big step for us on our path toward carbon neutrality,” Hudson said.
She talked about other efforts such as reforestation and reducing the burning of residual debris.
“We’ve been working in recent years to reduce our pile burning,” she said.
Area C director Edwin Grieve asked whether the company had been approached by any businesses about using its residual material, especially in light of its goals over burning.
Beleznay said the company is open to looking at more ways to reduce burning.
“The door’s wide open,” he said.