Outcry over planned logging

Logging planned for an area east of Penticton frequented by cross-country skiers and mountain bikers has sparked outcry from some user groups.

The forest surrounding a network of trails approximately four kilometres up the Carmi Forest Service Road is slated to be logged in sometime in 2019.

The block is being managed by BC Timber Sales, under the purview of the Ministry of Forests.

Users of the trails say they first learned about the harvesting plans when they ran into forestry workers in the area hanging ribbon earlier this year.

“Apparently they contacted a few groups, and no one really said much about it in response, so BCTS just decided that it was OK,” said Neda Joss, the organizer of an online petition opposed to the plan that has garnered more than 500 signatures in 72 hours.

The Carmi Recreation Trails are not formally managed by any one group, but attracts cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter and mountain bikers the rest of the year.

In a statement to Castanet, the Ministry of Forests said it shared cutblock plans with the South Okanagan Trail Alliance in November 2017 and did not receive any negative feedback.

Trail Alliance president Andrew Drouin confirmed the plans went out in a regular newsletter to over 500 recipients, although its unclear how many people actually read the information. At the time, Drouin said he didn't feel he had the support to pick a fight with BCTS over the issue — something that may be changing.

Since ribbons began appearing in the bush, 11 citizens have contacted BCTS with concerns.

A representative with BCTS met with Joss and 20 other users during a site visit Oct. 13 when they outlined their plans, which will see a large portion of the trails converted into logging roads.

“Why they are just targeting these specific trails, I don’t know,” Joss said. “It’s such an intensive recreation area, it doesn’t make sense.”

She said they are not completely opposed to logging in the area, but fears the project as proposed will mean the end of the site.

“There are some lovely big trees and open ponderosa pine areas, its pretty nice, and we are not going to see that anymore because it's going to be clear cut in sections.”

“When BCTS came, they had no idea that the area was as used as much as it was,” Joss said, explaining the representatives they met with seemed taken aback by their level of opposition to the logging plans.

The Ministry of Forests tells Castanet it is considering the user input in an effort to minimize the impact to the recreation area “without precluding harvesting.”

Because of that, Joss says they are mobilizing in an effort to preserve the area. Letters are being sent to local politicians and a trails day is being considered to drum up support.

Drouin says a meeting set for Wednesday involving the petition organizers will determine the Trail Alliance's opposition to the project moving forward, but he said they are prepared to walk away from the standard funding offered to the group in exchange for logging within a recreational area.

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