Cross­ing the line

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY RICHARD MAHONEY News Staff

A brazen tree cut­ter, who has cleared trees from North Glen­garry prop­erty, fur­ther un­der­lines the need for action against wide­spread un­fet­tered de­for­esta­tion, con­cerned cit­i­zens con­tend.

The op­er­a­tion is tan­ta­mount to theft, ar­gues Pete Bock, a Glen Sand­field res­i­dent who con­tacted The News last week with ev­i­dence of clear-cut­ting on a mu­nic­i­pal “green” road, north of Brodie Road be­tween Dalkeith and Glen Sand­field.

When he no­ticed a high-hoe operator removing trees from the side of the green road last week, Mr. Bock in­formed the ma­chine operator that he was clear­ing mu­nic­i­pal land. The man said he would call the landowner who had hired him. But, af­ter ap­par­ently speak­ing to the landowner, the har­vester sim­ply con­tin­ued tak­ing down trees.

Mr. Bock cal­cu­lated that a sec­tion of about one kilo­me­tre of trees on town­ship land was cut.

“Green roads are an as­set,” notes Mr. Bock, adding that they are pro­vide recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties that are used to pro­mote the mu­nic­i­pal­ity as a tourist desina­tion.

“But there are cer­tain peo­ple who be­lieve that they can re­move that as­set. This is the same as loot­ing or steal­ing; it is theft over $5,000. It is a charge­able of­fence,” states Mr. Bock.

In Glen­garry, there are now no lim­its on forestry ac­tiv­i­ties on pri­vate land, even though the impact of tree cut­ting can be wide­spread. De­for­esta­tion does af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment and wa­ter qual­ity.

While mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties con­sider adopt­ing tree con­ser­va­tion poli­cies, politi­cians are wary of even men­tion­ing any pos­si­ble mea­sures that would restrict oper­a­tions on pri­vate prop­erty. But the il­le­gal re­moval of trees from pub­lic land high­lights the ur­gency for a de­bate on some form of con­trols, as­sert Mr. Bock and Gor­don Buchanan, a Fas­sifern res­i­dent.

They are mem­bers of a group called “Glen­garry Neigh­bours,” about 40 North Glen­garry res­i­dents who are urg­ing town­ship coun­cil to gather pub­lic opin­ion and “lis­ten in­tel­li­gently” to res­i­dents about the loss of for­est cover.

Pro­posed tree canopy pro­tec­tion guidelines are sched­uled to be dis­cussed at the next com­mit­tee of the whole meet­ing June 16 at 3 p.m.

The ab­sence of any con­trols means that un­scrupu­lous tree cut­ters will be able to flaunt the law,

says Mr. Bock.

“If more peo­ple are al­lowed to do it, more will think they can do the same,” he ob­serves. “If a per­son de­cides to bully ahead, what are you go­ing to do? When you are deal­ing with bul­lies, you need a con­ver­sa­tion first.”

While North Glen­garry of­fi­cials have been made aware of the al­leged of­fences on Brodie Road, at press time chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Sarah Huskin­son was un­able to say what if any action the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was tak­ing.

Money talks

From a strictly fi­nan­cial view­point, the il­licit re­moval of trees from pub­lic land af­fects ev­ery tax­payer, says Mr. Bock.

Trees at nurs­eries can range in price from $100 to $260 each. The mon­e­tary impact can be huge con­sid­er­ing thou­sands of trees are be­ing cut, he adds. Tak­ing down thou­sands of mu­nic­i­pal trees is the same as if some­one stole the ice resur­facer from an arena, says Mr. Bock.

“On the town­ship web page, there is a photo of a smil­ing blond girl,” he notes. “What mother is go­ing to bring this girl to a town­ship where there are burn­ing stumps?”

Mr. Bock has pho­tographed sev­eral other ap­par­ent in­frac­tions, such as dis­rup­tion of wa­ter cour­ses, and mas­sive burn and de­bris piles near res­i­dences.

While there are no tree con­ser­va­tion laws to be en­forced, it also seems that there is no en­force­ment of laws that ex­ist to pro­tect wa­ter­ways and en­sure peo­ple have peace and quiet in their own homes, he says.

“I think the town­ship feels aban­doned by the On­tario and fed­eral government­s,” Mr. Bock states.

Mr. Buchanan adds that there are “a dozen in­di­vid­u­als” who are re­spon­si­ble for large clear-cut­ting oper­a­tions. Thus, the town­ship ought to be able to deal with a small num­ber of “ag­gres­sive types.”

He ob­serves that mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials have ac­cess to resources from groups such as the On­tario Wood­lot As­so­ci­a­tion to for­mu­late tree preser­va­tion poli­cies. “There is no un­doable. There is a whole net­work of help avail­able.”

PETE BOCK PHOTO

NO LIM­ITS: While there are no lim­its on tree cut­ting on pri­vate land, some also be­lieve they can re­move trees from North Glen­garry prop­erty. This photo shows how a mu­nic­i­pal green road has been cleared by a tree har­vester who en­croached on pub­lic land.

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