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Category "Forestry"

8Sep

Province proposal to turn part of Trans Canada Trail to industrial use ‘mind-boggling’

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https://vancouversun.com/


Cyclists ride across a trestle bridge, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.


Handout/Trails Society / PNG

A historic rail trail that was donated to the province by the Trans Canada Trail society could be opened to logging trucks if a government proposal to cancel its trail designation gets the green light, say trail advocates.

The Ministry of Forests is seeking to transfer management of a 67-kilometre portion of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail to unspecified agencies to reflect local interests and support “access for industrial activity,” according to a letter sent to stakeholders soliciting feedback on the plan.

A major logging company holds tenure for several cut blocks near the trail, which runs from Castlegar to Fife, east of Christina Lake.

“It’s mind-boggling that they’re even considering this,” said Ciel Sander, president of Trails Society of B.C. “The trail is a government asset. It should be protected as a linear park, not an access road for logging trucks.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail was donated to the Trans Canada Trail decades ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway for inclusion in the The Great Trail, previously known as the Trans Canada Trail, a national trail network stretching 24,000 kilometres across the country.

In 2004, the committee transferred the trail to the B.C. government with the “expressed intention that it would be used and managed as a recreational trail,” said Trans Canada Trail vice-president Jérémie Gabourg.


A cyclist on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

While the government’s proposal is clear that recreational access will remain, it marks the first time a group has sought to convert a portion of The Great Trail from a trail to a road in any province or territory.

“Sections of The Great Trail of Canada are on roadways, and we strive to move these sections of the trail to greenways, where possible,” said Gabourg. “To see a trail go from greenway to roadway is disheartening … It could set a dangerous precedent.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail connects with the popular Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a route that attracts cyclists from around the world. In accepting the trail from the Trans Canada Trail in 2004, the government made a commitment to preserve and protect it from motorized use, said Léon Lebrun, who was involved in the process as past president of Trails Society of B.C.

“We have a government who has not taken real responsibility,” he said. Officials have “turned a blind eye” to motorized users who have graded parts of the trail and removed several bollards designed to prevent access. “They had no permit and no permission, and the government did nothing.”

In its letter to stakeholders, the Ministry of Forests recognized vehicles are already accessing the trail, explaining the proposed administration change would ensure it was being maintained for that use.

“This portion of rail corridor contains engineered structures including steel trestles, hard rock tunnels, major culverts and retaining walls atypical of recreation trails and requiring management beyond typical trail standards,” said the letter by John Hawkins, director of Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.


Tracks on the trail, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

But Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore said that allowing motorized vehicles would be rewarding people who broke the law.

“While we acknowledge that this change reflects current use, this is clearly the result of years of mismanagement of what was intended as, and should have remained, a high-profile recreation and tourism amenity,” she replied to Hawkins in a letter that was shared with Postmedia.

“Those who have consistently flaunted trail use regulations are now being rewarded … We expect (Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.) to acknowledge this as a tragic failure, and ensure that resources and strategies are in place to prevent further losses of our valued trails.”

Stakeholders were given one month to register their feedback with the Ministry of Forests, ending Aug. 26.

In a statement, the Ministry of Forests said the process is ongoing to receive more information from regional districts. A decision is expected before the end of the year.

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12Jul

Western Forest Products rejects well-known mediator after asking for help: union

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19Feb

The herbicide glyphosate persists in wild, edible plants: B.C. study

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Lisa Wood, a forester and assistant professor at the University of Northern B.C., is the author of a study on the impact of aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.


Lisa Wood, a forester and assistant professor at the University of Northern B.C., is the author of a study on the impact of aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.


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Edible and medicinal forest plants that survive aerial spraying of glyphosate can retain the herbicide and related residues for at least a year, a new study has found.

“The highest and most consistent levels of glyphosate and AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) were found in herbaceous perennial root tissues, but shoot tissues and fruit were also shown to contain glyphosate in select species,” according the study published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

Herbicides containing glyphosate are used by forest companies to kill aspen and other broadleaf plants in areas that have been logged and replanted with trees of commercial value such as Douglas fir and pine, according to the Ministry of Forests.

When herbicides are sprayed by plane, the spray can deliver non-lethal doses of glyphosate to nearby “non-target plants,” some of which may store the compound indefinitely or break it down very slowly, said author Lisa Wood, a registered professional forester and assistant professor of forest ecology at the University of Northern B.C.

Wood found unexpected levels of glyphosate in new shoots and berries of plants that survived an aerial herbicide application made one year earlier.

These findings raise concerns about forage plants used extensively by First Nations in northern B.C. where most spraying occurs, she said.

The 10 species tested were selected for their importance as traditional-use plants, because some First Nations had expressed concerns about the long-term effects of glyphosate on wild plants, said Wood.

Glyphosate is typically broken down in soil by microorganisms over a period of months, but how long it persists in living plant tissues is unknown, she said.


This image was taken May 31, 2014, about a year after the area near Baldy Hughes was sprayed with glyphosate, according to Stop the Spray BC.

James Steidle /

PNG

“If a plant dies from an application it falls to the soil and there are microbes that gobble up the glyphosate,” she said. “When they don’t die, they have interesting ways of coping, often by storing and isolating the glyphosate.”

Forest companies are obligated by provincial legislation to manage regenerating forests until the replanted trees are free-growing, which may require selective tree and brush removal and use of herbicides to delay the growth of deciduous plants and tree species that crowd or shade timber stock species.

Chemical treatments are generally less expensive than manual control methods because fewer treatments are required, the ministry said.

About 17,000 hectares of forest land are sprayed each year, around 10 to 12 per cent of the area replanted each year. The total has been trending down since 2016 when the ministry relaxed brush control requirements in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

Improved, fast-growing seedlings have also reduced the need for spraying.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is poised to call for tighter controls on the use of glyphosate in forestry, citing in a draft resolution its negative impact on food and habitat for wildlife and the “growing body of evidence that suggests glyphosates are carcinogenic.”

Provincial regulations encourage chemical treatment by forest companies that want to avoid the expense of replanting cutblocks when timber species don’t thrive, said federation spokesman Jesse Zeman.

“Government guidance governing the use of glyphosate is an outcome of archaic legislation that puts merchantable timber first and all other values, including wildlife second,” he said.

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