18 April 2017
The letter from Peter Baird of CANFOR in your April 13 newspaper contains mostly soothing nonsense. I would find his claims amusing if the logging of the Clearwater Valley did not have such serious consequences for residents and the endangered mountain caribou.
Mr. Baird may believe that CANFOR has hired “independent third-party experts” but did he really check their credentials? The expert who wrote CANFOR’s study on the mountain caribou is an expert on owls, not even a distantly related species.
Large areas of the Clearwater Valley outside of Wells Gray Park have been designated under the federal Species at Risk Act as critical habitat for the endangered mountain caribou. However, CANFOR is forging ahead applying for permits to clearcut in this critical habitat, despite the area’s caribou herd being down to just 121 animals.
CANFOR’s expert on visual impact assessments made serious errors on the computer modelling for the large clearcuts that are now prominent on the west side of the Clearwater Valley.
CANFOR’s hydrology expert overlooked several key factors in his report which were discovered by the Upper Clearwater Referral Group in 2016 and brought to the company’s attention. Twenty years ago, 1st Canyon Creek flooded and washed out the highway to Wells Gray Park, trapping hundreds of tourists and residents for five days. Three other washouts have occurred since, all blamed on the 1980s logging on Trophy Mountain, and the cost to taxpayers has been $11 million.
The site plans for CANFOR’s next four blocks on Trophy Mountain are readily available but the studies on mountain caribou, hydrology and slope stability have restricted access. One member of the Wells Gray Gateway Protection Society spent 2½ hours at CANFOR reading the plans and studies but she was not allowed to take any photos or copies. The Society’s geology expert was refused access, contrary to Mr. Baird’s claim that the documents can be viewed by anybody.
What is in these studies that is so secretive? Why is CANFOR not allowing copies to be taken away so that our experts can study them? I can only conclude that there is some damning evidence in these studies that CANFOR does not want the public to know about.
Wells Gray Gateway Protection Society