B.C. Delays Timber Auction Near Juan de Fuca Park

A backlash against plans to log old-growth forests near Port Renfrew has prompted the B.C. government to push back the timber sale by two weeks.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said the delay will allow the government to investigate concerns raised by environmental groups.

The group adds that the proposed cutblocks contain large “legacy trees” that qualify for protection under provincial rules.

Donaldson said B.C. Timber Sales has extended the auction deadline to May 10 in response to the outcry.

“It gives us more time to investigate the information that’s been provided by environmental organizations about legacy trees being in some of the areas that [are] planned for logging,” he said, adding: “It’s part of best practices under B.C. Timber Sales to provide protection for those legacy trees.”

Donaldson said the government agency, which auctions off about 20 per cent of the provincial allowable cut each year, has already made adjustments for rare plant species in the area.

“They’re not aware of impacts directly for ecotourism operations within this licence area,” he said.

But environmentalists and local businesses say logging intact old-growth forests in the region will deal another blow to Port Renfrew’s economy, which is already reeling from new federal restrictions on chinook fishing.

“Today, the vast majority of business is related to tourism and leaving trees standing,” said TJ Watt, a campaigner with the Ancient Forest Alliance.

“They’re moving into a more modern and sustainable economy based on big-tree tourism, and the Juan de Fuca trail draws thousands of visitors in every year.”

He noted that one section of the trail is already closed for repairs. “If logging were to proceed, at the north end you could be hiking the trail and hear the sound of chainsaws and road-blasting all day long.”