SpruceRoots Magazine - December 2001

MOWING THE LAWN

A Ministry of Forests proposal to log behind Lawn Hill met with concern and resistance when Small Business Program manager, Rick Johnson, presented it to area residents in late September.

Johnson gave the Lawn Hill Community Association a preview of his next Forest Development Plan, due early in 2002, which will likely include new logging roads leading from the highway to three development areas located immediately north, south, and west of the shoreline community. Johnson handed out a report outlining six options for road access to the areas he wants the Small Business Program to log.

The option Johnson recommended to the group involves punching one road off the highway near Halibut Bight just south of Lawn Hill and a second road to the north beginning near Lawn Point.

But the group of fifteen or so residents at the meeting seemed more interested in denying road access for logging than discussing it.

"All these options are here to bamboozle us and distract us from the real issue which is the logging," Ron Durrance said.

And logging the area behind Lawn Hill, the gateway to recreational attractions like the Tlell Falls, the pontoons, and the historic North Road, was not a popular notion among the locals.

"There are a fair number of people here who don't want to see any logging, and nobody here is saying they're all for it," Heather George, who hosted the meeting, said. "What concerns me most is not so much that there's logging going on, but how it is done."

Many of those at the meeting were worried the logging roads would service more than the three areas Johnson was currently proposing - that they would mark the beginning of a long-term logging operation in the area - and Johnson did not provide any reassurance to the contrary.

"The main roads we build will be there for the long term because we'll be going in there for a long time," he said.

Andreas Uttendorfer argued the Ministry of Forests shouldn't consider logging behind Lawn Hill until it can be harmonized with a plan for the Tlell watershed like the Local Resource Use Plan (LRUP) which was well underway but wound up on the shelf when the Ministry declined to continue funding it.

"What's the big picture? I have no idea where that road is going. My understanding is the original intent for this area was an LRUP," he said. "If the Forest Service is prepared to keep the road open and maintain it, if you plan to build more roads, there has to be an overall plan for the Tlell River. That's not happening and it's time it did happen."

Residents were also concerned about the impression logging would have upon tourists whose first close view of the islands from the ferry would be the Lawn Hill area. Water quality, stream protection, noise pollution, traffic, and blowdown from unchecked southeast winds were all issues many wanted addressed before the Ministry went ahead with the proposal.

As part of the Regional District's planning process for Area 'D,' the Lawn Hill Community Association produced a plan and vision for their community which included parks and recreation opportunities in the same areas Johnson hoped to log, and this raised the ire of some members of the group.

"We spent all those years in meetings working on a plan for our community and you totally ignored it," Jim Murdaugh said. "We mailed copies of it to Forests, Environment, everybody. It doesn't seem to matter what we want or what we think."

Johnson told the group they would have 60 days to raise concerns with the Ministry once the Forest Development Plan is released. Whether or not the concerns would be enough to change the plan depended on the nature and quantity of them, and of course, the discretion of the district manager.

"It's up to the district manager and you need a reason," he said. "If I get 20 letters with concerns about the Forest Development Plan I have to address all of those concerns and if they can't be responded to appropriately the district manager might say let's look somewhere else."

Johnson went on to say that because most of the Timber Supply Area is already logged, the Ministry is running out of options and finds itself forced to look in places it might otherwise avoid for logging opportunities. Places like community backyards.

But some Lawn Hill residents refused to buy into the inevitability of Johnson's proposal.

"We're challenging you to reverse this whole process," Fern Henderson said.

"To not log here?' Johnson asked.

"That's right," she replied.

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photo and illustration - SRs staff


SpruceRoots Magazine - December 2001