By Andrea Arnold
The McBride Community Forest Corporation was under the microscope recently due to the start of logging activities at the base of Lucille Mountain near McBride.
Locals were concerned the logging would destroy a community trail through an old growth stand, referred to as “Lucy’s Lane,” and impact the Dominion Creek watershed.
MCFC General Manager Craig Pryor confirmed that while logging activities have commenced, he says neither the trail nor the watershed will be affected.
“There are two portions of trail in that area,” said Pryor. “We have left a 100-metre buffer on either side of the existing road, and although the block is a clear-cut block, the visual from the trails is minimal.”
Pryor provided a map that showed one portion of the trail running through the wildlife patch in the middle of the block that MCFC will not be harvesting. The other trail, a short distance uphill from the block, will remain unaffected.
“I saw the sign and realized there is a trail,” he said. “It is a really nice spot. I think there is an opportunity for more trails. For example, above the cut block where we will not be logging, (due to the possibility of watershed impact), there could be a trail built that loops back to the parking lot.”
Len McCarty, a longtime McBride resident who played a part in clearing the existing trail said that it looked like it had been used for logging in the past. They just cleared the brush off of it to allow for easier access.
“The whole area is something special,” said McCarty. “It had potential to be so much more than just a little trail. Beautiful hiking opportunities just a five minute drive from town.”
“The loss of the potential of the area is shattering to me,” he said.
McCarty spoke with Pryor and although they do not agree on aspects of the current logging block, they do agree that there is opportunity for more trail development along the side of Lucille.
The second and more timely concern expressed by members of the public through social media was that the block is on the same bench as the village water system, (located on the opposite side of the road from the block), and will affect the watershed. Using the map, Pryor showed that while the two are on the same bench, or close to it, the drainage from both sides of the road continues to run downhill, not sideways.
“Nothing that drains off the block will go into the water supply,” he said. “Also there is no running water within the block.”
He believes that any runoff from the block will continue to flow down into the properties lower down the slope.
Pryor said this 44-hectare harvest area is just the beginning. MCFC is working on finding and harvesting a few more blocks along the same side of Lucille in a wildfire mitigation effort.
“This is a real challenge due to the number of water users on this side of the valley,” he said.
There is a lot of old wood up there though. It doesn’t usually want to burn but with dry years and hot summers, if a fire got started up there, it would burn.”
The logging block traffic will not impact recreational access to Lucille as the access road is below the snowmobile parking lot and through private property. Pryor says they will be installing a gate soon to prevent unauthorized access to the block and provide protection for the private landowners along the border of the cut block.
MCFC holds open houses to allow community members an opportunity to see what is planned for the upcoming season, and provide an opportunity for feedback. Pryor hopes to host another open house this spring. He would like to see people take a more active role by coming to MCFC with information about existing but not-well-known trails.
“We see the value in the recreational aspect of these trails, and when possible, will work to preserve them,” said Pryor. “We would like to avoid situations like this one on Lucille going forward, so please stop by the office for a chat.”