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Chainsaw buzz stirs up once-protected old growth

McLaughlin Ridge called critical habitat

Times Colonist - Judith Lavoie, November 12, 2011

Chainsaw buzz stirs up once-protected old growth
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Local Port Alberni activist Jane Morden stands beside the McLaughlin Giant - an old-growth Douglas-fir measuring 23.5ft in circumference / 7.5ft in diameter.
Photo by TJ Watt

Environmentalists want the province to buy a tract of previously protected oldgrowth forest near Port Alberni that is now being logged by Island Timberlands.

McLaughlin Ridge was classified as critical habitat for wintering deer and endangered Queen Charlotte goshawks until 2004, when the province allowed it to be removed from a tree farm licence.

Different regulations governing private managed forest land mean part of the 500-hectare forest is now being logged.

"Here's another major example of the serious havoc wreaked by the B.C. government's TFL-removal scheme," said Ken Wu, cofounder of the Ancient Forest Alliance. "The B.C. government created this mess by largely deregulating these forest lands and now they need to clean it up by protecting the previously protected old-growth forests, deer winter range and endangered species habitat."

The area is used by black-tail deer, which feed on lichen hanging from oldgrowth trees when snow is on the ground.

"These are not deer that live at sea level, where there is rarely snow, or urban deer that feed on your flowers and garden veggies," Wu said.

"The deer rely on oldgrowth forests like McLaughlin Ridge for winter shelter and lichens, which are lacking in clearcuts and secondgrowth stands."

Endangered Queen Charlotte goshawk nest in the area, which is considered by government biologists to be one of the most ecologically significant sites in B.C., said Jane Morden, coordinator of the Port Alberni-based Friends of McLaughlin Ridge.

"To let the whole thing get logged would be a travesty," she said.

However, Island Timberlands spokeswoman Morgan Kennah said logging in McLaughlin Ridge is based on information the company receives from consulting biologists.

"We maintain an inventory of the goshawk nests because they are a species of critical importance and we modify our practices if nests are found in the area," she said.

In keeping with the rules guiding logging on privatemanaged forest land, critical wildlife habitat is protected by changing patterns of logging or volume, Kennah said.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson, who is on a trade mission in China, could not be contacted Monday.

Direct Link to the Times Colonist article:

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