Crossing the line
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.
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.”
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.