Steelworkers slam TimberWest's damage to Vancouver Island lake



    VANCOUVER, and SALT LAKE CITY, UT, Sept. 26 /CNW/ - The United
Steelworkers (USW) released video footage on Wednesday showing TimberWest
Forest Corp. contractors falling timber into a Vancouver Island lake. An
accompanying letter shows that TimberWest management overrode contractors'
concerns and ordered them to proceed with the falling.
    The footage was recorded in June 2006 and recently given to a USW local
on Vancouver Island. It shows large cedar trees being dropped into a small
lake in the Kweishen area of Vancouver Island on TimberWest private lands. The
lake itself does not have fish but it does flow into a fish creek about
one-half a kilometer downstream; that creek flows to the Cruikshank River and
then to Comox Lake, the main water-source for the Comox Valley.
    The timber is large enough to touch the bottom of the lake, likely
resulting in significant siltation of the lake, the creek and river, as well
as potential harm to the lake's aquatic species. A letter dated June 1, 2006,
shows that in spite of concerns by TimberWest's falling contractors, company
management ordered them to proceed.
    "We are alarmed at TimberWest's forest management practices," said USW
Western Canada Director Steve Hunt. "We are calling on TimberWest, as well as
a number of regulatory agencies, to investigate."
    Hunt produced letters sent to the BC Ministry of Forests and Range, BC
Forest Practices Board, BC Primate Managed Forest Lands Council and Canada's
federal Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans. As well, USW has brought the matter
to the attention of SFI Inc., the body responsible for TimberWest's forest
certification. A Steelworkers delegation attending the SFI annual meeting in
Salt Lake City, Utah, released the same material Hunt released in Vancouver.
    "We have asked SFI to investigate TimberWest's practices, given that SFI
is the body that controls the company's forest certification," noted Hunt. "We
are urging them to look into this and other concerns of local residents,
workers and TimberWest's contractors."
    Hunt pointed out that TimberWest is the subject of community controversy
for its logging of the Beaufort Range on Vancouver Island. The
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, for instance, wrote recently to the BC
Minister of Agriculture and Lands Pat Bell to voice its concerns about slides
in the Beaufort Range of Vancouver Island. The slides coincided with recent
boil-water advisories in the area. Such advisories were unknown before
TimberWest began harvesting slopes adjacent to creeks leading into the area's
water supply.
    "The fact that TimberWest's harvesting practices have been deemed not to
contravene the BC Private Managed Forest Land Act merely shows how lax that
law is," Hunt observes, adding that it would almost certainly contravene the
objectives of the BC Forest and Range Practices Act.
    "We trust that SFI, the Forest Practices Board and other agencies know
poor timber harvesting when they see it. We are calling on them to impose
standards more in keeping with sustainable forest-management practices."
    These incidents, serious as they are, are simply the tip of the
TimberWest iceberg, said Hunt. In the past, private and public lands were
managed to a similar standard. But changes to land-management and
forest-practices laws mean that TimberWest and other private-lands forest
operators can accelerate the rate of cut by adopting a harvesting model that
bases harvest rotations on economic considerations rather than biological
maturity.
    "It adds up to bad practices," says Hunt. "We are asking the people
responsible to rein TimberWest in and ensure that British Columbians see more
of the benefits from their resources."





For further information:

For further information: Stephen Hunt, Director, (604) 683-1117


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