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Doug Donaldson meets with Friends of Seven Sisters on logging plan

Environmental group discussed concerns with minister, who committed sending forest district manger.
Forests Minister and Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson giving a speech a Smithers District Chamber of Commerce meeting. (Michael Grace-Dacosta photo)

Friends of Seven Sisters met with Forests Minister and Stikine MLA, Doug Donaldson, on Jan. 9 to discuss their concerns over the planned logging adjacent to Seven Sisters Provincial Park.

The park, named after the Seven Sisters mountain range, is a 39,000-hectare wilderness park and protected area near Kitwanga that is a hour-and-a-half drive from Smithers that was established in 2000.

Six logging cut blocks have been mapped out near the Seven Sisters Park, including two that are adjacent to the park boundary that total about 50 hectares.

“The whole tone of the meeting was very, very, positive,” said spokesperson for the group Rod Major. “He was very open to see if changes could be made to what was going on. We were sort of enlightened by that. It wasn’t just a formal, ‘okay here’s the facts thanks a lot for coming.’ ”

The minister took notes and was very engaged throughout the 40-minute meeting Major said.

Donaldson committed to sending the forest district manager who’s responsible for that area to follow up with the Friends of the Seven Sisters for a field visit in the near future.

“I think it’s a chance for the district manager, who is influential in the application of forest stewardship plans, to hear directly from the Friends of the Seven Sisters,” said Donaldson. “He can share information that he has from the companies and [Friends of the Seven Sisters] can be more clear in their concerns.”

One of the group’s main goals is the implementation of the B.C. Forest Practices Board’s recent recommendations. The board is an independent government organization that advocates for sustainable forest and range practices in British Columbia.

The board recently recommended district managers be given more authority to intervene when proposed activities put local environmental and community values at risk and to enable public consultation on forest roads and cut blocks.

Donaldson acknowledges their concerns but cannot discuss legislation implementing those recommendations until a review of the professional reliance system by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change strategy is complete.

The review will examine whether district mangers oversight should be enhanced and restored to what it was before the professional reliance system or if the current model is working Donaldson said.

The review will be complete this spring.

“I’m an advocate for people having as much information as they can about what’s going to transpire in their own backyards,” said Donaldson. “I’ll be looking at non-legislative ways to improve the information that is out there for people.”