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Seabird looking for access to woodlot
Seabird Island's plan to have a roadway removed from Sasquatch Park is still in the works, Ted Holtby from Tamihi Logging said this week.
Currently, Holtby and Seabird are waiting to hear from BC Parks regarding stage one of their application process. They are hoping to have a piece of the roadway removed from the park to allow timber to be moved from a proposed woodlot on First Nation land that is otherwise landlocked. The road travels through Sasquatch Park and connects to Rockwell Drive, a route Holtby said is the only way to access the area.
The first application is a simple one, he said, which allows BC Parks to decide if they will consider a more in-depth application for further study. Upon approval, the applicant would put together a more detailed plan.
“That's still where we're at, at this point,” Holtby said on Tuesday. He said they're planning for a public information session next week to meet with community members, hear their concerns and answer questions.
They've booked the Agassiz Agricultural Hall for Thursday, May 29, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the session, and will be booking a room for a similar event in Chilliwack the following week.
“From all of that, we will gather more information and synthesize it and gather it up for the stage two application to the Parks branch,” he said.
Their application is not without controversy. Several members of the public have spoken out against the removal of the road from the park boundary, and a petition titled Help Save Sasquatch Provincial Park is making its way through the community.
Holtby said the plan's detractors don't believe parks should be “tampered with in any way.”
The petition says Sasquatch is "under threat" from the boundary adjustment application, and that an adjustment will "violate the principals that parks should be safe from development," and impede access to and enjoyment of the park. The petition, circulated by local resident John Coles, suggests that Seabird and Holtby find alternatives for logging trucks.
Holtby said there are no other routes, and they will continue to seek approval for the boundary adjustment.
“The government has created a means to have a boundary amendment to use parks, and in this case, it's just for access on an existing road,” he said. “They (Seabird) just want to drive down the road, which was a logging road by the way, originally.”
Seabird wants access to their land and the ability to remove timber from their woodlot. Holtby said there is no other access to the area, and helicopter logging is not feasible due to the close proximity of hydro lines, roadways, the communities and parks.
“The cut would be very minimal, a woodlot has a very small cut,” he added. There is no end date for the logging activity, he said, as a woodlot would be selectively harvested over a period of time.
And while the logging activity wouldn't employ a large number of people, it would give the Seabird Island band a chance to train people in forestry.
“It's not the case of employing a lot of people, but for them it's a good source of revenue and it's an opportunity to work with their youth and some training on how to work in the industry,” he said.
At a presentation to Harrison council last year, Holtby also stated that if the road were to be removed from the park, any licensee would be able to transport logs down the road.
He said they received "a blitz" of letters from residents following that presentation, but that it's quieted down recently.
"We had all kinds of emails and not many that were in favour of the plan, but that's to be expected," he said.
The Observer has contacted the Ministry of Environment for comment on the application process, and is awaiting a response.