Yellow outlines show previously proposed cut blocks above seasonal homes in the Bastion Bay area. Residents are concerned the removal of trees could lead to slope stability or debris flow issues in the steep creek above them. (Submitted)

Province denies request for moratorium on logging above Shuswap homes

Ministry says further work being done to assure risk of landslides is low

The province will not support a moratorium on logging in the Bastion Creek watershed, but assures efforts are being made to keep the risk of resulting landslides low.

In April, in response to concerns of residents of the Totem Pole Resort strata, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) submitted a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations requesting a moratorium on cut blocks proposed by BC Timber Sales (BCTS) for Bastion Creek until a comprehensive risk assessment is completed.

Residents of the 32-home strata are concerned the logging, which would take place above the resort, located on an alluvial fan, would increase the risk of a landslide.

On June 3, the CSRD received a reply from ministry regional executive director Gerry MacDougall, who said that because of considerable measures being taken to ensure operations can be conducted in a safe manner, a moratorium is not considered necessary at this time.

MacDougall said BCTS’ plans for the watershed area have thoroughly considered potential impacts on downstream users, with hydrology and terrain stability assessments having been done by qualified registered professionals. The most recent being a terrain stability assessment, completed in April 2020.

Furthermore, a watershed channel and debris flow assessment is expected to be completed this summer.

MacDougall said that depending on completion of this final work, the timber sale is being considered for auction sometime this summer or fall. He added that BCTS has amended the proposed boundaries and harvest timing of the planned cutblocks in response to community concerns and professional recommendations.

Read more: CSRD backs logging moratorium near Bastion Creek

Read more: Urgent call for protection of forests as devastation increases

At the June 17 CSRD board meeting, chair Kevin Flynn said he spoke with the ministry about the process and that he was comfortable with the process including the additional geotechnical work.

“There isn’t an outright moratorium but there is significant acknowledgement of the concerns,” said Flynn.

The board did agree to have Flynn write the ministry requesting the results of the additional work, as well as details regarding amended boundaries.

“They can change the time they’re harvesting but the next freshet, or maybe two or three freshets down the road, you have a lot of snowpack or you have some heavy rainfalls and that’s when the damage is done,” said Area E director Rhona Martin. “We’ve seen that in action around the CSRD many times. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with and look forward to the report.”

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