Elphinstone Elk Report 2017
Final- 24 Oct – SCCF Wilson Creek Watershed
Please find an attached a study authored by Wayne McCrory (RPBio) examining forests on the lower Sunshine Coast that contain low-high Roosevelt Elk habitat for sheltering from winter conditions. These forest types are also referred to as ungulate winter range (UWR).
The report points out that at this time the Sunshine Coast Forest District has not proposed any Elk UWRs in the region even though a 2003 government order requested Districts to identify areas that meet UWR criteria. Our hope is that this report will lead to UWRs being established to ensure a viable population is maintained.
Until such time that the Ministry of Environment reviews the contents of this report, and completes the due diligence of proposing UWRs, we urge both Community Forests and BCTS to place a deferral on cutblocks proposed in the study area, and particularly in an expanded Elphinstone Park.
Summary and Conclusions
…I found that the Wilson Creek watershed transect 1 area and the transect 2 area I surveyed in March have low-high potential for elk winter range, and evidence of at least low winter use by the species, yet these are now currently proposed cutblocks by SCCF. A Google Earth review of forested and logged areas for the Wilson Creek and Elphinstone areas, as well as my 2014 conservation report, suggests that significant areas of potential candidate areas for UWR for Roosevelt elk in the area have already been logged. In my professional opinion, it would appear that despite the fact that elk are blue-listed and their winter survival is partly dependent on an adequate supply of older forest types, if the intent of section 69 of the Forest Practices Code was to protect relevant coastal elk winter range by 2003, the government should have moved much more quickly to ensure this safeguard was in place on the Sunshine Coast in order to provide more secure winter habitat for the herds they subsequently reintroduced. If anything, the province should have at the very least established a moratorium on logging of existing mature/older forests surviving on the Sunshine Coast, including the Wilson Creek watershed and Elphinstone area, until they had carried out adequate elk winter habitat surveys and apportioned a sufficient amount of protected UWRs to safeguard the restoration of this blue-listed species in the area. As noted by Quayle and Brunt (2003): Several sources of information suggest a negative overall picture of the status and trend of Roosevelt elk winter habitat in British Columbia, which has been degraded by industrial forestry.
Recommendation I recommend that no further cutblocks in the Wilson Creek watershed and Elphinstone area that include mature/older or maturing fire-originating stands be approved until such time as Elk winter range (UWR) protection measures are in place.