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'Toad War' logging begins

After plans to log key toad habitat near Nakusp sparked an outcry, and even a blockade, from community members, forestry work has begun south of Summit Lake.

The logging, which will include 660 hectares of the species at risk 'special concern' western toad hibernation area, began on Monday.

The Village of Nakusp owns Nakusp and Area Community Forest, the logging company responsible for the area.

“Harvesting could be stopped if the Village of Nakusp council, which owns the community logging tenure, issued a stop logging order to NACFOR,” wrote the Wilderness Committee in a statement. “The Village of Nakusp has refused to meet with local residents opposed to the logging.”

NACFOR released a statement on Feb. 25 claiming they have done extensive studies in the area in an effort to reduce their impact on the toad population.

They said they are logging in the wintertime to use the snowpack to limit the impact on the hibernating toad population.

“There are a couple of times in a year that are optimum for operations, this

is one of them,” reads the statement. “Special interest groups are attempting to galvanize people around an anti-logging/anti-development agenda in an effort to fulfill their mandate to create parklands.”

A Summit Lake resident said the pro-toad movement is definitely not anti-logging, and NACFOR is an important part of their community.

“The area we’re talking about is only 6.8 per cent of their tenure,” said Debbie Pitaoulis. “Find them another area of equal size that’s not a sensitive habitat. This is absolutely not an anti-logging campaign or protest.”

And while NACFOR says they are taking all the right steps to minimize their impact on the toads, biologist Wayne McCrory says these practices are speculative at best.

“The so-called best practice logging guidelines for toad habitat are on very shaky and speculative scientific ground,” he said in a statement. “Studies tell us the best way to conserve western toads is not only to protect their breeding and migration areas but the core terrestrial habitats where they spend 95 per cent of their lives.” 

McCrury says the area two kilometres around Summit Lake make up this habitat, which will be logged by NACFOR.

“As a Summit Lake resident, I have spoken to hundreds of locals over the past two weeks – people are shocked and appalled that logging is being allowed in core toad habitat,” said Pitaoulis. “We still have the opportunity to save the toads, do the right thing and stop this irresponsible logging right now.” 

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