The recent logging project near Violin Lake has prompted some community concern that deforestation is disrupting the area’s diverse ecosystem.
The City of Trail maintains that the 45-hectare area currently being logged by ATCO Wood Products is not within the watershed so the undertaking will not have any direct impact on the lakes or various amphibians that reside in and around the Mill Pond or lake.
“ATCO follows standard logging practices for an area like this,” noted David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer (CAO). “This includes that construction of logging roads are done to a high standard where streams are protected,” he explained. “And the location is carefully considered in order to minimize environmental impacts.”
Questions about leopard spotted frogs and other flora or fauna in the watershed falls on Warren Proulx’s desk, the city’s engineering technician who, after 30-plus years of service, is very familiar with the area.
His concern is of the two-legged variety – because trespassing and illegal dumping on the privately-owned land is the primary and ongoing problem facing the city.
The road that connects Cambridge reservoir to Violin Lake has been blocked off to prevent unwanted people from accessing the logging area and access to the watershed via the Casino road is gated.
But “keep out” and road blocks aren’t enough, so he is telling people to stay away because logging activities are perilous.
“Logging is a very dangerous business with heavy equipment, fallers and logging trucks that persons trespassing could be harmed in a restricted area especially during logging,” said Proulx. “The Violin Lake watershed is private property owned by the City of Trail and we have numerous signs requesting persons not to trespass.”
Persons who are asking questions have been in the watershed either watching or near the logging activities, said Proulx.
“Trespassing, vandalism and theft are activities that the city is trying to prevent in this area.”
ATCO forested the Violin Lake area about 12 years ago, and those lands now support a healthy stand of trees that could be potentially logged again in 30 or 40 years, noted Perehudoff.
The city signed a contract with the wood veneer manufacturer earlier this year that so far, has netted Trail about $260,000, though that amount could increase significantly depending on the total volume of timer removed in the future.
“The city initially hoped that net revenue would exceed $500,000,” explained the CAO. “But in the absence of timber cruise there was no way to predict how much to expect this time around,” he continued. “When considering the revenue derived last time the property was logged, the city stands to recover a combined revenue well in excess of $1 million.”
The majority of ATCO’s forestry work is certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Standard, which is a North American independent non-profit organization that promotes sustainable forestry management.
“While our certification only specifically applies to Crown Land, our forestry practises are the same on the City of Trail private lands,” explained Mark Semeniuk, ATCO’s chief operating officer.
Biodiversity is a concern for ATCO, he said, and the company has a vested interest in the long term health and sustainability of the forest.
For example, rather than replanting only one or two species on City of Trail land, the company plans to replant six tree species, such as Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar and White Pine.
“This will allow for a vibrant new forest consisting of the ‘Kootenay Mix’ of species that has historically grown on these lands,” added Semeniuk. “Although there is no getting around the fact that a newly harvested site looks less appealing than a healthy green forest,” he said. “It is a necessary part of the renewal process, and we are proud of our efforts to minimize the negative aspects of the harvesting process, and the ultimate result of a healthy, diverse new forest only a few years after harvest.”