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  • (2023-11-10) Response to BCTS regarding proposed logging on Maurelle Island (Judy and Brian Bloomfield)

    Judy Bloomfield

    We would like to introduce ourselves, Brian and Judy Bloomfield. Brian is a founding member of the Company formed in 1981 as are several other current shareholders. Judy is the Company’s secretary. Elephant Bay Holdings is the owner of Lot 420 at Elephant Bay, Sayward District, Maurelle Island. The following comments reflect the concerns of members associated with 13 shares in the Company although you may hear from other members individually. Members over the years have raised families on the property and been involved in the many social and organizational connections of Surge Narrows on Read Island.

    Please be advised that we will be emailing this response to Theresa Cleroux with attachments noted in the response as it appears there is no ability to attach in the response tool. We ask that the attachments become part of this response. We are sending 3 submissions due to the 4000 character limit with your online tool. There is too much at stake to include in 4000 characters. We will be updating Theresa with any information I received as a result of enquires made regarding Community Watersheds, the Blue - Special Concern designation of the Coastal Cutthroat species in Elephant, Caroline and May lakes and the existence of a log dump in the Rockfish Conservation Area in the Okosollo Channel.

    Regarding all proposed activity related to Maur002, and all other cut blocks and road building on Maurelle Island, we would like to express our deep concerns considering that:

    1) To our knowledge, ONLY select stakeholders in the area were notified of the Operational 5 year Logging Plan 2022-2027. How is it that the residents directly affected by the plan did not receive direct notification as would be the case for any kind of development being proposed adjacent to privately owned land in any other area of BC? In fact, it took the concerted effort of a Maurelle Island resident to act on disseminating the information. Good neighbour policy and law seems to be in short supply when it comes to logging! Furthermore, it seems that the ‘stakeholders’ that did receive advance notice were able to immediately lobby for the removal of cut blocks 1006 and 1011 and were granted! See the attached BC Assessment map showing that no private properties exist in Hole-in-the Wall. This corridor is used only for transportation to and from the Stuart Island area.

    2) Immediately after the last round of road building and timber harvest above Lot 420 shareholders experienced severe turbidity, scouring as never seen in our 40 years there and an increase of debris in Elephant Creek which is our drinking, irrigation and power supply ‘protected’ by water licences 65754 to 65757 since 1987. In fact, the only pelton wheel on our property at the time was disabled due to detritus and particulate and as a result that power supply was lost. The proposed cut blocks to the east of Lot 420 clearly shows on the BCTS topographical map that runoff drains entirely into Elephant Creek either directly or by way of the creek’s tributaries, the swamp north of the FSR to Elephant Lake Elephant Creek and Elephant Bay. This watershed is the sole source of domestic, irrigation and power supply for 13 owners of Elephant Bay Holdings Inc. I await a response from the Ministry of Forests regarding the Company’s water rights as related to this logging plan.

    Although buffer zones on creeks, tributaries and lakes have not protected our water supply during and after past harvests, please advise regarding the width and locations of buffer zones in this proposal.

    3) A rough measurement of the proposed road building in this plan is more than 8.5 km, a length that would almost circumnavigate half of the whole of Maurelle Island. The FOM indicates a harvesting period of 2 years, 2027-2029. The disruption of the right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the Okosollo by residents and visitors (paying and otherwise) is a repeat from the last harvest as well as the on-going logging activity on Quadra Island across the channel. The myriad of boaters, paddlers and hikers to the Okosollo often comment on the irritating noise ‘pollution’. This is not the sound that these folks want and often pay to hear. On the FOM sent Sep 21, we see that the planned development date for the road sections is 2023-01-01. Is this an error? When would road building begin in preparation for the 2027 harvest?

    4) Judy is from a family who owned timber licences up and down the coast between the Comox Valley and Port Hardy since 1898. Forty years ago she was hearing from family members that logging practices had to change in order to be sustainable. When feller buncher machines came along we knew it was a losing battle for the coveted ecology of our forests and the family found other employment rather than be part of this destructive practice. The once 100-120 year harvest cycle has been reduced to a 40-45 year cycle. What is next? Despite the most recent count of 92% of BC residents who believe that clear cut logging should end, the province still allows this practice. It hurts the soul!

    The Old Growth Strategic review is 3 years past and still NONE of the recommendations have been implemented. Deferrals are just that, deferrals, an insult to the overwhelming science that clear cuts spell destruction for our forest ecosystems as well as all species on earth either directly or indirectly. Will we be having more conversations about the old growth remaining on Maurelle Island as soon as next year?

    5) The log dump opposite the heavily used Octopus Islands, is within the Rockfish Conservation Area and tidally affects the entire Okosollo, Hoskyn and Whiterock Pass channels (map attached). Several DFO staff have told us off the record that they are baffled why this dump was allowed to exist in the first place. There are 37 subspecies of Rockfish on the coast of BC and all are listed as Blue species, of special concern. The proposed harvest would yield 10,000 more cubic meters than the last cut, more than 47,000 cubic meters. That will undoubtedly result in debris and commercial truck fluid runoff, not to mention the turbidity commented on above, into the Rockfish Conservation Area. And what about the other marine life also affected, think octopuses and all the fish and microorganisms that whales and such feed on. The increased marine traffic in the channel and accessing said log dump over a two year period should warrant additional monitoring of the Rockfish population and it’s health. Not to be done after the fact!

    6) Wildfire: Clear cuts adjacent to populated areas have proven to be a huge risk to lives and property with prohibitive expense and loss of regeneration of the forest. Yes, that is proven! Lytton, West Kelowna and Scotch Creek have road access for first responders. That is not the case for this community. There was concern during the Sonora Island wildfire several years ago that there was a possibility of the fire jumping to Maurelle Island due to the prevailing northwest winds. We think of our aging residents, the difficult to access terrain and inadequate water supply for firefighting. How many proposed harvesting areas in the Sunshine Coast are adjacent to populated private properties, especially where water supplies are directly impacted and wildfire risks are elevated? Calling clear cuts rural ‘development’ is a misnomer, in fact the opposite is true and the science is clear that the forest will never be ‘improved’ by a mono-culture clear cut approach to forestry but rather diminished in the loss of natural biodiversity which the planet is so direly in need of.

    7) It is well known that the tourism industry is a big part of the economy in the Discover Islands. Long established local companies provide a variety of opportunities such as paddling, whale watching, marine cruising, fishing and aerial tours to appreciate the natural surroundings of the area. The return of whale populations to the area recently is bringing more eco-friendly activity and the viewscapes and health of the marine environment is critical for the burgeoning tourism industry. This activity is only on the rise as residents of Western Canada seek to escape the heat, smoke and danger of the ever-increasing risk of living inland. We’ve all heard plenty about humanity rushing to the wilderness during the recent pandemic. That flow is only increasing and is witnessed every day by locals and the demand for rural real estate. It is obvious to those that support the industries that protect and serve our natural spaces for the survival of all species on the planet that this is where economic efforts should be focussed. The spin-offs of tourism are not to be ignored. Campbell River, Quadra Island and Cortes Island also have numerous businesses that rely on the natural attributes of the Okosollo. Aside from tour companies fuel, groceries, outdoor gear, accommodations, restaurants and entertainment venues all benefit from the draw of this special place!

    Status quo logging practices are no longer viable. It’s time to re-train the industry for the very different future we face.

    Further to this issue, why were the VQOs downgraded on the Okosollo while cut blocks were removed from the plan on the un-populated Hole-in-the-Wall? We ask for a credible response from BCTS. European visitors especially are repeatedly heard asking, “Why are the citizens of BC allowing these clear cuts?” The forest policies here are archaic!

    😎 We strongly oppose the use of glyphosate. As you can imagine, that is especially concerning for those living downstream of our drinking and irrigation supply (edible gardens are critical here). Please verify if glyphosate was used in previous logging of watersheds on Maurelle Island and if it is planned for this next harvest. We mustn’t forget the other inhabitants of our wild spaces. All creatures are displaced during logging and at serious risk when pollutants such as glyphosate are used. Wildlife is pushed into smaller and smaller habitats which often results in migration that puts pressure on other species and the safety of humans alike. Grizzlies have island hopped to Vancouver Island in recent years due to habitat loss and in the search for suitable territory.

    9) Streamkeepers and DFO staff have told us that clear cut logging absolutely decimates cutthroat trout populations (unfortunately public servants are so intimidated by higher levels of authority they are reluctant to speak the truth regarding policy; SO many examples of this it is shameful). The only time cutthroat have NOT been caught in Elephant Lake since our arrival in 1981 was immediately following the last harvest. The stock seems to be slowly come back due to Caroline and May lakes feeding into Elephant Lake. Will logging proposals adjacent to Caroline and May lakes be coming in the future?

    In closing, we wish to re-iterate all that Claudia Lake has submitted in her response to BCTS and ask if this community is expected to trust that our time, passion and care put into livelihoods derived in the area, the raising of families in the Discovery Islands over many decades and the ongoing stewardship provided gratis to the province will be respected? Now is the time to realise the inappropriateness of this proposed plan and and for BCTS to cut their losses and look to other less-impactful locations for AAC opportunities. As an advisory and planning body to the province and as public servants (meaning to serve the public) we respectfully ask that our concerns be directed to the top levels of government in advance of the public demand to do so.

    Looking at the Sunshine Coast Timber Supply Area map it seems a small ask to shift the focus to the many more remote and densely forested locations than the complex needs of the Okosollo Channel area.

    Please know that we cherish where we live and play and will continue to apply pressure where and when needed.

    Be the change!

    Brian Bloomfield

    Judy Bloomfield

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