Nelson Land Corporation has begun logging on its land of the forested slope adjacent to and above the Apex ski area south of Nelson.
“This is disappointing but not surprising,” says Jaime Frederick, general manager of the Nelson Nordic Ski Club. “It was a matter of when, not if.”
The forest above the trails is part of the same property that Nelson Land Corporation has been logging for two years in the vicinity of Cottonwood Lake.
In 2019 the Regional District of Central Kootenay purchased a portion of that property from the company, and last year the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society bought another section. Both purchases were to preserve forests around Cottonwood Lake.
The Nordic Ski Club is a non-profit organization that runs the ski trails at the Apex ski area, the home of many family oriented public nordic ski events throughout the year.
One of the ski trails runs along the Great Northern Rail Trail, which is managed by the Regional District of Central Kootenay. Cary Gaynor of the RDCK told the Nelson Star that their staff will monitor the safety of the trail and perhaps close it for short periods if necessary during the logging, with adequate notice to the public.
The part of the Apex Loop trail situated above the rail trail will not be accessible this ski season because of the logging.
The stability of the logged slope and the avalanche risk is a concern for the club, says Frederick.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to minimize further impacts to our trail system and ensure its safe use by our members this winter. We are also working on potentially extending other parts of the trail system to help mitigate the loss of part of the Apex loop.”
Logging on private land in B.C. is controversial because there are fewer provincial regulations on the size and impact of the cut than for logging on Crown land. Private land loggers are not required to inform the public or the province about planned cutting.
About six per cent of B.C.’s forested land is privately owned.
Several communities in B.C., including the City of Nelson and the RDCK, at the annual conference of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, have asked the province to either regulate private land logging or give local governments the tools to do so, arguing that it potentially puts nearby private and public properties at risk and could affect water sources, fish habitat and other ecological values.
“This year again communities in B.C. have asked for more tools to regulate private land logging. … It’s disappointing to see it presented yearly without meaningful change,” says Ramona Faust, RDCK director for Area E in which the Apex ski area is located.
The province has begun a review of the Private Forest Management Land Act, and in 2019 published an interim report with no policy proposals or recommendations for change. The forests ministry told the Nelson Star this week it does not know when the final report will be ready.