Tolko Industries says it has altered its harvest plans for a cutblock located just above Greater Vernon’s primary water source.
The lumber manufacturer announced its revised plans this week following concerns last month from the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO).
According to the RDNO, the cutblock was 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which supplies 60 per cent of Greater Vernon’s water.
The RDNO said the proposed logging activity was on top of a steep slope, right above the water, and that removing trees and disturbing the land could lead to geotechnical instability.
“Engineering staff and a hydrologist retained by the RDNO are very concerned about the potential that logging activity and the remaining semi-cleared land on this specific block could lead to the water system being damaged by a landslide or debris torrent,” the RDNO said on April 22.
“Based on the current information available, the risk to water quality and quantity is unacceptable to the RDNO.”
“We want to be clear. The RDNO is not opposed to logging or forestry operations,” added Kevin Acton, chair of the RDNO’s board of directors.
“We have serious concerns about logging at this specific location, and we are asking Tolko to pause and work with us so we can find a mutually beneficial solution.”
On Tuesday, Tolko said after reviewing its Duteau Creek harvest plans, no harvest or road construction will take place in this area of concern.
“After the RDNO raised issues, Tolko took some time to engage with them, listen to their concerns, and re-examine the harvest plan,” Tolko said in its press release.
“Tolko’s analysis that the area is safe to harvest has not changed according to the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, but the company appreciates the different priorities of the RDNO and feels that this is the best way to proceed.”
Tolko’s vice-president, Kevin Jewett, added “Tolko has continued to work with the RDNO and the Ministry on these concerns over the past few weeks.
“We value the collaboration we’ve had on this discussion as we explore options to plan and harvest our annual allowable cut and keep our people working.”