by EVAN MATTHEWS
Some McBride residents are expressing concern over the McBride Community Forest’s logging of Bell Mountain.
Len McCarty started logging in 1967 and knows the region’s timber supply well. He’s now the owner of Midget Mills after selling his logging equipment years ago.
Midget Mills concentrates mostly on Cedar and Fir.
“I try to get people to understand, Bell Mountain is just easy logging. It’s right there,” says McCarty. “These guys don’t even have to take coffee; they can just run back to town,” he says.
McCarty’s concern: by harvesting the “low hanging fruit” on Bell Mountain, at some point MCFC won’t have enough money to fund costlier logging operations.
“We’ll hit the wall and we won’t be able to afford to log any of the stuff way back there,” he says, adding MCFC has to build costly bridges and roads to access many areas.
In 2017, MCFC will harvest roughly 17,000 cubic metres from Bell Mountain out of a total planned harvest of 35,000 cubic metres.
The product being logged from Bell Mountain is of a low quality, according to McCarty, simply because it has been logged over and over again.
“Over the last year MCFC has had three public open house meetings where we have made available our plans for logging in the whole community forest including on Bell Mountain. We have answered questions from the public on all aspects of our plans,” — Jeff McWilliams of B.A. Blackwell and Associates, and General Manager of the McBride Community Forest Corporation
“(By reserving timber on Bell Mountain) if we need a little bit of this or a little bit of that, we can just run right over to Bell Mountain and get it, and just about any time of the year.”
“We’re just destroying our inventory without using it to our benefit,” says McCarty who adds he thought MCFC said they were going to halt operations on Bell Mountain – but that hasn’t been the case.
Jeff McWilliams of B.A. Blackwell and Associates and General Manager of the MCFC says he is unaware of any promise made by MCFC to cease operations on Bell Mountain.
“Over the last year MCFC has had three public open house meetings where we have made available our plans for logging in the whole community forest including on Bell Mountain,” says McWilliams.
“We have answered questions from the public on all aspects of our plans.”
He says not everyone agrees with their plans for Bell Mountain, nor does everyone agree on some of the other areas they will be logging.
McWilliams says part of the reason MCFC is still logging Bell Mountain at this moment, is so the organization can better plan for the future.
“We are currently assessing the prospects for completing a new inventory and timber supply analysis over the next few years,” says McWilliams, noting the plans for Bell Mountain were finalized in 2016.
“Our professionals, staff and layout contractors all felt Bell Mountain best fit our needs at the time. Moving forward we are working on plans to diversify harvesting throughout the community forest.”
Some residents say locals should care more about the impact of logging surrounding the community.
“There was all that fuss about the ancient forest, yet no one cares about the forest in our backyard,” said Eunice Wentz via a Facebook thread in the McBride Discussion Board.
Others defended MCFC’s efforts, as the community’s economy continues to reel.
“It seems like no matter what forestry industry does around here nobody will ever be happy,” said Derrik Lewis on the same thread.
“It creates jobs… Tree planters come in and re-plant the blocks… It’s not like it’s never been a logging area before. It’s helping our economy,” he said.
While re-planting other, higher quality species on Bell Mountain is an option for future harvests; McCarty says it isn’t a good option because the majority of the MCFC footprint is made up of the same product as Bell Mountain.
Rather than change the species MCFC harvests, McCarty suggests re-focusing MCFC’s efforts on other areas.
“The MCFC is ignoring a lot of the product way out in the forest, but it’s still a part of their footprint,” says McCarty. “They need to be going to these far away parts, too.”
McWilliams says none of the complaints noted in the discussion had been reported to MCFC management, staff or the board of directors.
MCFC is encouraging the public to engage with the company, but McWilliams says they will not be engaging in discussions on social media.
“Instead we are happy to respond to questions or input received through direct verbal or written communication with staff, managers or board members,” he says.