Out­door en­thu­si­asts urge gov­ern­ment to ban log­ging

Penticton Herald - - CITY & REGION - By KEITH LACEY

Lo­cal politi­cians of­fered strong sup­port Thurs­day to a lo­cal group of out­door recre­ation en­thu­si­asts who are urg­ing the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to ban log­ging in an area near Pen­tic­ton used by tens of thou­sands of lo­cal hik­ers, cross-coun­try skiers and moun­tain bike en­thu­si­asts.

Fol­low­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by Neda Joss, spokesper­son for the Carmi Recre­ation Trails Group, the board of the Re­gional Dis­trict of Okana­gan-Sim­ilka­meen voted unan­i­mously to send a let­ter to Forests Minister Doug Don­ald­son urg­ing a per­ma­nent halt to log­ging on Carmi Moun­tain.

Bri­tish Columbia Tim­ber Sales has ini­ti­ated a de­vel­op­ment plan that in­cludes sell­ing tim­ber rights to forestry com­pa­nies in the area, said Joss.

Al­low­ing log­ging in the area would force out­door en­thu­si­asts who have en­joyed the Carmi recre­ation trails for more than seven decades to find some­where else to hike, ski and moun­tain bike, she said.

Mem­bers of her group aren’t nec­es­sar­ily op­posed to log­ging, but not in that area, she told the board.

Log­ging would neg­a­tively af­fect “ev­ery trail up there,” she added.

Ron Obirek, the RDOS di­rec­tor for Area D (Skaha East and Okana­gan Falls), told col­leagues he re­cently vis­ited the area and clear-cut­ting there would dev­as­tate the recre­ation trails.

“This value and this use will not sur­vive clearcut log­ging,” he said.

Osoy­oos Mayor Sue McKortoff said any time the RDOS can make ef­forts to pro­tect parks and trails, it should do so.

“Once we lose them, we lose them,” she said. “I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant for us to look fur­ther ahead and down the road for our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren and pro­tect what we can.” Pen­tic­ton Mayor John Vas­si­laki agreed. “I be­lieve it’s an as­set, an as­set that ben­e­fits the whole re­gion and I’m a strong be­liever in sup­port­ing as­sets and mak­ing sure they don’t get de­stroyed,” he said.

“We need out­door recre­ation, not only for the present gen­er­a­tion, but fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Fol­low­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion and the board’s vote of sup­port, Joss was pleased.

“I think there’s a lot of peo­ple on that board that are in sup­port of recre­ation, so I’m not sur­prised with their sup­port,” she said.

Joss will con­tinue with her push to meet di­rectly with Don­ald­son at his ear­li­est con­ve­nience and promised the group will con­tinue to ramp up the po­lit­i­cal pres­sure.

“We will keep the pres­sure on. It’s not over yet,” she said.

Pen­tic­ton MLA Dan Ash­ton pre­sented a pe­ti­tion with more than 1,400 names to Don­ald­son in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture two weeks ago.

Ash­ton at­tended Thurs­day af­ter­noon’s meet­ing, but had to leave be­fore the board voted to sup­port the mo­tion to send a let­ter to Don­ald­son.

Her­ald file photo

Trails in the Carmi Moun­tain area are at risk of be­ing closed due to log­ging, says a group of recre­ational users that’s fight­ing back.

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