Photos of the clearcutting going on up Mount Washington Road. Photo by Jay Van Oostdam

LETTER – Sounding the alarm about clearcutting old-growth forests in the Comox Valley

Dear editor,

It’s become common to see clearcut logging of second-growth trees in our Valley. But in the past week, we have noticed something very different: hundreds of trees cut in the Ramparts Creek area beside the Mount Washington road. These trees are 250 to 500 years old, the last uncut remnants of a forest that once stretched from the ocean to the alpine meadows.

Why is logging being permitted around Mount Washington and Strathcona Park? Mount Washington alone draws 300,000 visitors yearly. Many of them are expecting a beautiful natural environment and are saddened by the ugly scars on the landscape.

More importantly, we are experiencing a global climate and biodiversity crisis: a heat dome last summer, atmospheric rivers last fall, and now a Level 5 drought that has left our rivers and creeks bone-dry. Salmon are waiting and wasting away in the salt water and may die before there is water in their birth streams. This is no time to be clearcutting our local ancient forests.

We know forestry can be done differently and better, using selective harvesting methods to replace extensive clearcutting. The provincial government has called for a more balanced approach that promotes biodiversity and ecosystem resilience for the future as a priority.

iNaturalist.org has documented over 2,500 species in Strathcona Park. Logging and climate change could lead to a 50 per cent species loss. The B.C. government and the landholders must take this into account in any plans for this area.

Old-growth forests hold and stabilize water flows through watersheds, decreasing flooding in high flow times and enhancing flow in dry times. The Brown River drains the area that’s being logged. Because the Brown connects to the Puntledge River, the current clearcutting will almost certainly lead to lower water flows and put the Comox Valley’s water security at risk.

We must ensure that in the Comox Valley there is a real transition to sustainable forestry practices which preserve old-growth forests throughout the region. How sustainable is logging 350-year-old trees in the middle of a drought and impending climate change? When will Mosaic Forest Management start logging better?

Jay Van Oostdam,

Comox Valley

forestryLetter to the Editor

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