The Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest says they are disappointed after discovering someone has stolen at least $15,000 worth of wood from them. (Matt Wealick)

The Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest says they are disappointed after discovering someone has stolen at least $15,000 worth of wood from them. (Matt Wealick)

Thieves snag $15K of wood from Hope helicopter logging site

Culprits would have needed major equipment to drag logs, says Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest

A Fraser Valley-based community forestry group says it’s been hit not once, but twice by thieves stealing large, expensive logs from one of their remote helicopter sites.

Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest discovered the first theft during the Christmas break when they noticed that two of their logs — worth $500 per metre — were missing from their helicopter logging site in the Silver Skagit area. Originally chalking it up to a one-time incident, general manager Matt Wealick said he was dismayed to see that six more logs — six feet wide and around 12 feet long each — were taken Monday evening (Jan. 9), from their landing site, located halfway from the Flood Hope Road exit.

“This is very high value [logs] because we’re flying it by helicopter. So, it’s very valuable,” says Wealick, who is also a forest ranger from Tzeachten First Nation. “Our logging contractor supervisor noticed tracks going up to [our logging site], so we went up there to check it out. And we noticed two logs disappeared… initially we thought, that maybe somebody took it for chopping up into firewood and didn’t know better. But this is, they’re targeting cedar and they took certain pieces.”

Wealick says he didn’t expect the thieves to make a return — in fact, he didn’t expect anyone to take the logs in the first place. Aside from being in a difficult spot, the logs themselves are not easy to transport and require the hard work of both Tolson Enterprises loggers and VIH helicopters. For this reason, Wealick believes that whoever took the wood probably chained up a tractor or other big piece of equipment.

While he has reported the theft to Hope RCMP, Wealick says he’s uncertain if anything can be done by them. He, along with the rest of the forestry group, hope that by getting the word out about the theft that maybe someone will come forward with more information. They also hope that people will be dissuaded from participating in future thefts.

He also says he’s disappointed in the response of the Ministry of Forestry.

“The Ministry of Forestry, who are supposed to be our RCMP, haven’t even answered my call from the first time,” says Wealick. “That’s the most disappointing thing in all of this.”

The Standard has reached out to the Ministry of Forestry and is waiting for comment.

CLCCF is an organization that maintains and looks after approximately 26,000 hectares of forest land between the District of Hope, Yale First Nation, and the Fraser Valley Regional District. Started in 2007, they are part of community forestry — an evolving branch, and subsection, of forestry where decision making and revenue is kept within the local community.

Money generated through the CLCCF stays in the communities of District of Hope, Yale First Nation, and the Fraser Valley Regional District. They create local jobs (and hire locally), revenue is brought back to the community, and decisions are made with the community in mind.

All the profit goes to the three partners who then invest it back into their communities. Which, as Wealick points out, means that the theft also hurts the communities that CLCCF works for. As such, he says he hopes that it’s nobody local as that would be very disappointing.

“If you’re doing this, please stop. The money goes back to the community,” says Wealick. “We’re trying to do a good thing here… there’s lots of people putting up with noise, and everything else. The benefits of this should come back to the communities. It goes all the way back into community things. And the idea that one or two people are impacting that is very disappointing to me.”

READ MORE: Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest says hello to the communities it serves


@KemoneMoodley
kemone.moodley@hopestandard.com

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