For years, many residents of the small hamlet of Argenta and the West Kootenay have campaigned to have the Argenta Face, an important landscape on Kootenay Lake that lies between Argenta and Johnson’s Landing, included in the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy.
But now, a portion of this locally cherished area is slated to be logged.
Logging activities were set to begin last week when a group of protesters blocked the Salisbury Forest Service road near Argenta.
This logging is slated to begin during the start of the nesting and migratory bird season. Migratory birds and their nests are protected under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Knowingly killing birds or disturbing nests is a violation of the Act.
Locally, the critical nesting season begins in April and ends in August.
A report prepared for the logging company (Cooper Creek Cedar) by Professional Biologist Brenda Herbison recommends “avoiding timber harvesting during the nesting through fledgling period from April through July (or more precise dates based on better information).”
Five cutblocks are slated to be logged immediately in the Argenta Face area.
The highest elevation block (block 7) contains old growth forests.
Cooper Creek Cedar plans to leave very few trees on this block.
Two lower elevation blocks have also been identified as potential old growth through analysis done by ecologists Greg Utzig and Rachel Holt. Cooper Creek Cedar plans to retain more trees on these blocks.
However, many residents want the Province to add the Argenta Face to the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy in order to create a high to low elevation corridor of mature and old growth forests. An additional cutblock (block 5) is planned to be clearcut with reserves.
Cooper Creek Cedar is believed to be in the process of applying for a new cutting permit (CP-416) which includes at least nine additional cutblocks, and a large new road network for the un-roaded and intact forest above Argenta between Argenta Creek (Argenta’s watershed) and Bulmer Creek.
Intact and roadless low elevation forest is unique and extremely rare at low elevation in the Kootenay region.
These intact areas should be added to the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and not logged.
The provincial government must show leadership and resolve this longstanding land conflict.
Cooper Creek Cedar must delay logging until at least after the nesting period, and allow time for a resolution of the conflict that will spell the fate of this important forest that connects mountains to the shores of Kootenay Lake.
The province has committed to changing the paradigm in BC forestry; resolving this issue could help to rebuild public trust on forestry issues in the West Kootenay for MLA Brittny Anderson and Forests Minister Katrine Conroy.