Logging firm could have done more: Audit

Audit finds that Tamihi Logging and government should have better consulted with Post Creek residents on planned harvesting in Chilliwack.

A logging company and the government should have better communicated with residents in the Chilliwack River Valley about harvesting in an endangered species habitat, an investigation has found.

In 2011, residents of the Post Creek subdivision, off of Chilliwack River Road, fought an intent by Tamihi Logging to cut trees in an area that is home to the spotted owl.

Despite a protest vigil and multiple formal complaints by the Post Creek Ratepayers Association (PCRA), Tamihi Logging received the go-ahead to harvest.

Industry auditor Forest Practices Board recently revealed that both the logger and the government missed opportunities to consult with local residents.

“They complied with the law, and they actually did more than the law basically requires, but in some cases that’s not enough,” said FPB chair Al Gorley. “Although we don’t have any authority to tell people what to do, we kind of expect people to read the situation and do what’s necessary. We felt they could have done more in that case.”

According to FPB, the logger and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operation should have proactively approached residents before laying out the cutblocks in the field. They should also have informed the public immediately when they detected a spotted owl in the area, rather than letting residents discover it on their own. Finally, Tamihi Logging should have better explained why it backpedaled on a previous commitment to not log in the winter, a promise that was meant to protect local mountain goats.

FPB hopes that public pressure enforces better communication in the future.

Tamihi Logging has now completed harvesting around Post Creek. Forestry services does not anticipate any more logging in the area in the near future.

“That was a one-time opportunity,” said Allan Johnsrude, Chilliwack forest district manager.

As a result of harvesting, sections of a hiking trail leading to a waterfall have been damaged. PCRA president Phil Belisle believes that more consultation may have improved this outcome.

“It’s possible that we might have been able to save this waterfall trail. A lot of people here were just outraged by that, losing that. We just didn’t have any choice. Once we found out about it, it was kind of a done deal.”

After Tamihi Logging completes repairs on the trail, there will be a section of walking through clearcut, according to Belisle. As requested by residents, the company will also decommission some of the roads it used in order to limit recreational motor vehicles from accessing the area.

The 85 properties of the Post Creek subdivision sit 38 km up the Chilliwack River Valley.