Despite mounting community opposition, it appears B.C. Timber Sales has no intention to axe plans that would involve logging in a popular recreational area near Penticton.
B.C. Timber Sales, the province’s forest management arm, plans to open 10 per cent of the Carmi Intensive Recreation Area — around 70 hectares of land — to logging in 2020.
Local trails groups continue to fight the proposal, expressing concern that well-used backcountry trails will be turned into industrial logging roads.
The Carmi Recreation Trails Group teamed up with the South Okanagan Trail Alliance to propose that the area be designated a community forest. Penticton city council gave its support in principle on Tuesday.
WATCH (Aired Nov. 13, 2018): Opposition growing to logging in Penticton’s Carmi area
The designation wouldn’t block logging in the area, but it would give a local non-profit society control over forest management. The society would have a licence to harvest timber.
“We would use the least invasive methods possible, using smaller equipment and doing selective logging,” said Neda Joss with the Carmi Recreation Trails Group.
The society could contract out logging work to a local company, and all profits would be redistributed back into trail enhancements.
“We will be using timber harvesting as a way to finance the maintenance and enhancement of the trails,” she said.
Betty Bright was snowshoeing along the network of trails on Thursday. She said she is opposed to logging in the area.
“There is lots of other lumber in B.C. Why do it on a trail that people are always visiting?” she said.
Bright spoke in favour of a community forest designation.
“It would be nice not to have any logging, but if we can get by with where we select what they log then that will work, too.”
The local trails groups need written support from two more local government stakeholders before they can submit the application to the province.
In November, dozens of people attended a town hall meeting in Penticton, and opponents say more than 1,700 people have signed an online petition.
WATCH (Aired Oct. 29, 2018): Trail users oppose logging in Carmi recreation area near Penticton
Meanwhile, B.C. Timber Sales does not appear to have plans to back down.
“BCTS will continue to work with stakeholders on the planning of harvest operations in the Carmi recreation area,” the organization said in a statement issued on Thursday.
BCTS will meet with concerned citizens on March 1.
There are currently 58 community forest agreements in the province.
There are three in the Okanagan-Shuswap area: Westbank First Nation Community Forest, Lower Similkameen Community Forest and Cherryville Community Forest.