The Arrowsmith Parks and Land-Use Council (APLUC) has been working for months to conserve a piece of crown land, District Lot 33 in the Nanoose District, from logging because it contains a vigourous, mature coastal douglas fir (CDF) forest, a rare sample of a forest ecosystem declared endangered by the Forest Practices Board. “The provincial government is telling us they are sacrificing the CDF ecosystem at DL 33 to provide an economic opportunity for the Nanoose First Nation,” said APLUC member Berni Pearce of Parksville. However, APLUC has discovered that other attempts to access economic opportunities by the Nanoose First Nation have been rejected by the Forest Service.
Paul Grinder, of APLUC, reports, “We’ve been told by the Mayor of the District of Lantzville that the district made a joint application a few years ago with the Nanoose First Nation for a woodlot licence currently referred to as Woodlot Licence 1475. The joint application was intended to involve the Nanoose First Nation in sustainable forest practices as well as to provide jobs. Under the MoF scoring system there was no credit given for community- and relationship-building partnerships such as the joint proposal offered, nor was there consideration for the economic opportunity that it could create for either Lantzville or NFN. As a result, they lost the bid for Woodlot 1475. Instead of the 95% Coastal Western Hemlock forest contained in Woodlot 1475, located on a ridge in upper Lantzville above the Winchelsea Golf Course, the Nanoose First Nation is now saddled by the government with the cutting of a prime sample of endangered CDF forest on DL 33, a rare piece of crown land.”
At the prompting of the Forest Practices Board, the provincial government is focussing a CDF conservation strategy on crown land only. “The problem is,” said Pearce, “there is extremely little crown land in the Esquimalt and Nanaimo land grant area, and almost none containing stands of low elevation mature CDF forest. This is the horrible situation we are in if the government persists with its threat to log DL 33.” Both the Regional District of Nanaimo and the AVICC have unanimously approved motions to include District Lot 33 as part of the government’s proposed CDF conservation plan being conducted by the Integrated Land Management Bureau, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Forests and Range.
Paul Grinder is currently seeking a meeting for all parties with Pat Bell, Minister of Forests and Range, Barry Penner, Minister of Environment, and George Abbott, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. APLUC has also requested that MLA Ron Cantelon help organize such a meeting as well as take action inside government to conserve the CDF ecosystem and protect DL 33 from logging. However, in a recent phone conversation initiated by Mr. Cantelon, he has not offered to help with such a meeting. Instead, he reassured Mr. Grinder not to worry as “only 25% will be logged this year”. In addition to other actions, APLUC has added its voice to others by submitting a Notice of Complaint to the Forest Practices Board over the failure to protect the CDF forest ecosystem in the E&N land grant region.