There are many hidden gems in the Robson Valley, but only one holds the ominous distinction of being the largest predominantly intact but unprotected old-growth watershed south of B.C.’s 54th parallel. The Raush Valley, hidden in the Cariboos to Dunster’s South, holds two protected areas but they are not yet parks. They should be, and then some.
The Raush wilderness is largely inaccessible. At this time, hunting is allowed in the two protected areas as is, oddly enough, road building. In the latter case, PG’s Carrier Lumber has plans to build a road through the Lower Raush Protected Area from the Castle Creek logging system this year, thus opening more of our rare interior rainforest not only to logging but to dramatically increased hunting access, endangering our increasingly scarce moose.
The mountain slopes that harbor the Lower Raush Protected Area, being steep and water-rich, are difficult road building terrain which potentially leads to downstream collateral damage into endangered salmon and bull trout habitat. In order to make such a difficult road financially viable extensive cut blocks will be needed to balance the loss, furthering the impact on these ‘protected’ areas as they will then be divided by ‘developed’ cut blocks rather than be contiguous wilderness as they have been since, well, forever.
Some questions should loom large: Where or when do we draw the line as to the acceptability of punching roads into pristine valleys, or cutting primary forests within rare ecosystems? Do we wait until B.C.’s logging industry is forced to deal with the second growth reality of its tree farms because they’ve ravaged all of the province’s unprotected primal forest to minuscule scattered fragments? We won’t have to wait long at this rate, but should we? Do we watch as the level of this province’s unprotected Old Growth climbs ever rapidly northward, and lose the last of our Valley’s potential for wildlife habitat or for future generations to experience and learn from? Not only are our local mills closed, losing many high-paying Valley jobs, but are we now to stand by idle and watch as an external company jumps in and hauls this gem’s trees away? What do we gain from that, and/or more importantly what do we stand to lose if we let it happen?
The NDP government has lapsed four months behind its election promise to enact the Old Growth Panel’s recommendations. At the very least, an immediate moratorium on old-growth logging needs to be enacted until those recommendations are properly addressed. Anything less amounts to being woefully short-sighted with willful blinders on, a dangerous mix shamefully lacking in both vision and accountability.
The Raush is one of the few predominantly pristine wildlife connectors between the Fraser River and the contiguous provincial park system including Wells Gray, Cariboo Mountains, and Bowron Lakes. That wonderful and rare distinction should be enshrined in law. The Raush Valley deserves to be made into a Provincial Park. Let’s make it happen.