Pause the project

Res­i­dents con­cerned about for­est har­vest in An­napo­lis County

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY IAN FAIRCLOUGH SALTWIRE NET­WORK TUPPERVILLE, N.S.

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.

CON­TRIBUTED

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.

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