Mount Elphinstone – History of Conflict

As documented by Rick O’Neil, Roberts Creek.  Rick is the winner of the 2011 John Hind-Smith Environmental Achievement Award that honours a worthy local Sunshine Coast citizen who has demonstrated their dedication and commitment to the environment and preserving wildlife.  More about Rick at the bottom of this page.

1983
Logging on Mt Elphinstone causes disastrous flooding in neighbouring residential area during heavy rains.

1985:
B.C. Ministry of Forests ( MoF ) sets up a short-lived Elphinstone Local Resource Use Plan( LRUP ) process that excludes community involvement.
MoF continues to issue logging permits on Mt. Elphinstone.

1990:
MoF plans to spray herbicides in clearcuts within Mt. Elphinstone domestic watersheds. Local residents successfully blockade the attempt.

1991:
MoF resurrects the Elphinstone LRUP process. MoF refuses to participate in public meetings. Community members form a Concerned Coast Residents group and submit a silviculture plan to the LRUP. MoF rejects their proposal and continuous to allow industrial logging on Mt. Elphinstone.

1992:
Mof opens the LRUP process to local input and makes assurances “that nothing will happen” without the “sanction” of the LRUP committee.

1993:
MoF advertises Mt. Elphinstone cut blocks and continues to allow road building and logging without LRUP committee report.

1993:
MoF places arsenic-treated structures in Flume Creek, the source of water for more than thirty licensed water users in the Elphinstone area.

1994:
Concerned Coast Residents, Elphinstone Electors, Roberts Creek Community Association and Forest Watch members re-state their concerns regarding clean water, biodiversity and sustainable jobs to the LRUP committee. MoF allows huge Clearcuts on Mt. Elphinstone.

1995:
Western Canada Wilderness Committee publishes and distributes 20,000 copies of an Educational Report outlining the Elphinstone Forest Watch eco-forestry proposal. MoF continues to allow industrial logging on Mt. Elphinstone.

1996:
B.C. Government establishes another planning process, the Lower Mainland Protected Area Strategy ( PAS )
Government’s PAS committee meets behind closed doors and refuses to hold public hearings. B.C. Federation of Naturalists submit a proposal to PAS calling for the protection of 1,500 hectares on Mt. Elphinstone based on the area’s high biological values. PAS recommends to the B.C. Government protection for only 140 hectares of the biologically rich Mt Elphinstone forest. The Government announces this tiny 140 ha. Protected and commits to establishing a Sunshine Coast Local Resources Management Plan ( LRMP ) process to resolve other land issues.

1996:
The NDP win the provincial election.
No Sunshine Coast LRMP is established. MoF allows logging of an area on Mt. Elphinstone that was the world’s best habitat for a critically imperiled species of mushroom Tricholoma apium.

1996:
Two capacity-crowd public meetings, sponsored by Concerned Coast Residents, endorse a report by the Elphinstone Forest Plan Committee calling for no logging and no new roads in a 1,500 hectare proposed protected area on Mt. Elphinstone. Endorsers include Elphinstone Electors, Roberts Creek Community Association, SCRD, Regional Directors from Areas D, E, F, and the Sechelt Indian Band, Concerned Coast Residents, Forest Watch, Elphinstone Living Forest, Tapwater coalition and Granthams Landing Water Improvement District.

1997:
Concerned Coast Residents meet with local MLA Gordon Wilson and the Forest Minister urging increased protection of Mt. Elphinstone, better forest management and a more fair public planning process. Still no Sunshine Coast LRMP is established. Government hires consultants who review the Elphinstone LRUP process and recommend major changes. MOF rejects the recommendations, shuts down the LRUP and unilaterally produces a plan that calls for logging all of Mt. Elphinstone’s provincial forest lands and replacing the existing forest with fibre plantations.

1998:
Logging continues on Mt. Elphinstone. Still no LRMP.

1999
Ministry of Transportation and Highways pushes an excavation road four meters wide and one Km. Long into the 140 ha. Mt. Elphinstone Protected Area to search for gravel and establish a test pit,
Logging continues on Mt. Elphinstone, Still no LRMP.

1999
MoF approves a 1.5 Km. Long road into a key habitat area within the 1,500 hectare proposed protected area of Mt. Elphinstone.
Concerned citizens form a new group, the Elphinstone Defence Coalition, and blockade the building of the new logging road through important habitat for five intense weeks.

2000:
Mof continue with its management plan for the 8,000 hectare Mt. Elphinstone area that includes logging and road-building operations inside the proposed park area. Elphinstone Living Forest holds well attended public meeting and re-dedicates its efforts to achieving an ecoforestry based community forest tenure on Mt. Elphinstone and a 1,500 ha Mt. Elphinstone Class A Provincial Park.
In September an environmental activist and Aboriginal Rights proponent takes up residence in a cut block off the new road (branch 06 of Roberts Flume forest service road ) to prevent loggers from destroying the forest
within the 1500 ha. Proposed protected area.

In November of 2000 the loggers went in and began cutting, but stopped when a large number of protesters arrived to protect the trees.

2001
On Jan. 28, while a scheduled public meeting is taking place in Roberts Creek Hall between the local citizens and the Minister of Forests, a number of loggers go into the cutblock on branch 06, and begin felling trees despite the presence of several people in the forest trying to protect the trees. In one case a faller cut into a tree while a person was up in the tree. The faller completed the undercut, and about 7/8 of the back cut before stopping, showing a reckless disregard for human life.
This group of fallers felled trees in a reckless and destructive manner causing many trees to fall on the road and break into several pieces.
Later the contractor claimed they did not work for him. He described them as “volunteers” from outside the area

2002
The MOF gave a large cutblock to Sladey Timber in the Proposed 1500 ha. Protected area. This cut was at the end of the East Wilson forest service road, and was not advertised and was completed without any organized protest against it.
On Nov. 5 th the fallers returned and began felling trees in the cutblock on branch 06 . They stopped when protesters showed up, but said they would be back. The MOF went ahead with plans to sell another cutblock directly across the road on branch 06.
The MOF extended the cutting permit which had expired on Nov. 14, 2002, for the controversial cutblock on Branch 06, for another year.

2003
In early February a road was cut into the area between Clack and Gough creeks. This road runs N off Roberts Flume Forest Service Road at a point about 600 m West of Clack creek. This was a primary forest in the middle of the proposed protected area. It is now completely fragmented by this mainline road which is about 1 Km long.

On Feb. 26 a public Meeting was held to discuss this latest logging on Mt. Elphinstone, it was well attended with over 150 people there. Many spoke and the vast majority were opposed to continued logging.

On Feb 28 Stan Hagan , the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Sechelt Chamber of Commerce. He claimed that the majority at that meeting were in favour of more logging on Mt. Elphinstone. He had spoken only to loggers, and to members of the Chamber of Commerce. He had not attended the public meeting the same week at the Roberts Creek Community Hall, where over 150 people had attended and the vast majority were opposed to logging in the proposed 1500 ha. core protected area. He had spoken to no one from the community of Roberts Creek which is the community most affected by logging in the forest directly above the community.

2004
Logging continued on Mt. Elphinstone above Roberts Creek, and B.C. Timber Sales announces more planned cutblocks above Roberts Creek. Large clearcuts are also done within Roberts Creek, on private land owned by logging companies.

2005
Logging continues on Mt. Elphinstone , in the proposed protected area, at a more rapid pace than previous years, with at least 5 cut blocks done or in progress before September. One large clearcut is now visible from Roberts Creek beach. At least 5 more cutblocks are flagged and approved by June of

2005. Four of these are on the boundary of Roberts Creek, another is between the two arms of a small park on Mt. Elphinstone. Bordering Roberts Creek.

2005 –Rick O’Neill , and 4 other Roberts Creek residents all put in complaints to the FPB. We were opposing 3 cut blocks. I was concentrating on block 42706, because of its very high biodiversity and unique wildlife habitat values. The other two blocks were the one in the center of the horseshoe shaped park, and the one above that , between the B & K road and Clough creek. ( the one with the bear den )

2005 – Meetings with BCTS ( Rob Martin, Bill Hughes) They agreed to change the logging schedule to put the horseshoe shaped park cut block off till 2010, and Block 42706, between Gough and Clack creeks , off till 2011

2009 – I was working to try to get support to protect block 42706. I tried everything I could think of. I was still under the impression that it would not be logged till 2011.
I was in the area on Oct 10, 2009, and it was still untouched at that time. On Oct 17, 2009 I received a phone call from a friend to tell me that they had pushed a road into the cut block and were rapidly clear cutting it.

2010 – In the Spring of 2010, in a desperate attempt to salvage something positive from the destruction I conceived a plan for an “ amphibian Habitat Recovery Area “. I spoke to the Roberts Creek Community Plan Committee about my idea. They were very interested in the idea, and agreed to talk to the SCRD and send a request to BCTS for an opportunity to discuss the idea.

The BCTS area manager is now Norm Kemp. ( replacing Bill Hughes who retired )
The planning forester is Russ Brewer.
Russ Brewer met with me in early 2010. He also brought Elke Wind , who is a biologist and an expert on amphibians and their habitat. We discussed the AHRA proposal, and they were both interested and said they might be able to assist in this project.

Unfortunately the MoF manager in Powell River is the one who can make decisions regarding what is done with the area after logging. He had a request from Island Timberlands to allow them to extend the existing road in block 42706 through the planned buffer which BCTS had allowed for in their plan. This would make it easier to access their private timber in their lot 2387 The BCTS plan had stipulated that this road would be decommissioned after the logging was complete.

This will not only destroy the buffer area, but will cause this road to be left open, which is an invitation to ATVs , motorized dirt bikes, and mountain bikers to use this road and they will most likely open more trails , which will destroy the area proposed for an Amphibian Habitat Recovery Area.

This was extremely discouraging to me, as this was the finest remaining piece of habitat left on Mt. Elphinstone and it was adjacent to the current Roberts Creek boundary, so would have been an excellent asset to Roberts Creek.

The current Liberal government changed the mission statement of the MoF, so that now the only mission of the MoF is to assist the profitability of the logging industry.

 

2012 – Battle to Save the Wilson Creek Forest (SCCF cutblock  EW002) 

and some of the last low level and close proximity Old-growth and Natural Forests on the Lower Elphinstone Slopes e  a

SCCF (Sunshine Coast Community Forest) is the dba name for Sechelt Community Projects  Inc., SCPI, the logging company 100% owned by the District of Sechelt

 


About Rick O’Neill
Rick is the winner of the 2011 John Hind-Smith Environmental Achievement Award that honours a worthy local Sunshine Coast citizen who has demonstrated their dedication and commitment to the environment and preserving wildlife.

Rick O’Neill is deeply dedicated to the environment and like John Hind-Smith himself, toils away quietly, never for self recognition, but on behalf of our natural environment. Whether sampling for forage fish along intertidal areas, identifying amphibians on Mount Elphinstone or photographing the natural world as a way to bring the forest ecosystems into focus for others, Rick does it all with only the environment in mind. (Several of Rick’s photos appear on this website.)

He has devoted countless hours to protect biodiversity on the coast and he has taken many groups out for walks to teach about mushrooms, amphibian, birds and trees. As a founder of Elphinstone Living Forest, Rick was the driving force behind developing a comprehensive ecosystem plan…..

To read more on Rick click here: Rick O’Neill receives John Hind-Smith Award from the SCCA

Help Protect the Last of the Old Growth and Natural Mt. Elphinstone Forests!

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