Pause the project
Residents concerned about forest harvest in Annapolis County
Residents near a proposed 20-hectare forestry operation in Annapolis County say the province should pause and take another look at the project.
Four generations of Randy Fredericks’ family have lived on a property half a kilometre away from the proposed harvest on an area known to residents of Tupperville as Hardwood Hill.
Fredericks says the harvest will encompass much of the 30 to 40 hectares of Hardwood Hill, and local residents are concerned about impacts to biodiversity and the local ecosystem.
He said residents have several concerns, including the proposed harvest area includes a mixture of mature and old-growth Eastern Hemlock, and immature beech trees that are not ready for harvest.
The site planned for harvest is at the crest of the hill, Fredericks said. He has collected signatures on a petition and written to the Department of Lands and Forestry to express the community’s concerns.
“Essentially, the community uses this hill in various ways, ranging from recreation to hunting, and more recently for mushroom foraging as well,” Fredericks said.
He said the hill also acts as a filter for springs that feed local wells, and there are worries the work will lead to erosion and sedimentation in local brooks, which contain trout.
He also said beechnuts and cavity trees support species including barred owls, flying squirrels, porcupines and black bears, and said selective cutting should be the preferred method.
The forest area proposed for harvest includes a section that is a mixture of Eastern Hemlock, in some cases 200 years old, and immature beech that he says is only 30 to 40 years old.
Fredericks said the beech isn’t ready for harvest and is “spindly,” and the hemlocks are “well within the range of what we could consider old-growth forest, which is greatly underrepresented in our region.”
People are concerned because of the condition of the beech, “a lot of the wood that would be harvested may end up going for low-value products such as wood chips,” Fredericks said.
People also don’t want to see the “systematic patch cut” forestry method, followed by cuts of more patches in a couple of years and so on, “so essentially it becomes a slow clear cut,” Fred- ericks said.
Marker tape has been placed in the area. Fredericks admits the property has been on the Department of Lands and Forestry’s harvest viewer web page “but I don’t think many people in the community even knew the harvest viewer existed.”
He said that meant no one knew about the proposal until Nov. 4, when someone came upon the plan by chance. The deadline for public comment on the proposed cut ended Oct. 29.
“There has been wide-spread mention that this kind of cut, or cuts in general, should be presented to the community in some other form that would be more apt to be seen by local people.”
He said sending notices to property owners within a certain distance of a proposed harvest “would be a way to let people know in more than just this one app.”
NDP Lands and Forestry critic Lisa Roberts said from everything she had heard about Hardwood Hill, “it is a special place that is valued by residents who live near it for a host of different reasons.”
She said from what she has read in the Lahey Report on forest practices in the province, “it’s fair to say the Department of Lands and Forestry has not adequately been accounting for the different values of Crown land when cuts are being approved.”
She said the Lahey Report “clearly stated that we are not doing an adequate job right now on assessing the impact of cutting or harvesting on wildlife.”
That an area considered as special by local residents could be substantially harvested right now, “when we already know (from the Lahey Report) that the current process of the Department of Lands and Forestry is inadequate, is very alarming,” Roberts said.
She likened harvesting approvals being sought and approved now to builders rushing to put up new buildings before a new municipal planning strategy is implemented.
“We should just press pause on special pieces of Crown land that have these values of multiage species mix, that have a known history of being important for wildlife.”
In an emailed statement, the Department of Lands and Forestry said it had Fredericks’ letter and petition.
“It will be considered, along with other input, during the review and decision-making process for this proposed harvest,” the department said.
It said the online harvest plan map viewer lets people know of potential future harvests on Crown lands, and people who sign up for direct notification will get an email each time a proposed harvest is posted.
“We encourage anyone with an interest in forests to sign up for email notification to learn when there are new proposed harvest areas posted on the map viewer,” the statement said.
Randy Fredericks stands in a section of forest in the area known as Hardwood Hill in Tupperville, Annapolis County. Local residents are worried about the impact on biodiversity and the local ecosystem of proposed tree harvest in the area, which they say is special to the local community.