Property owners at Apex Mountain have won a stay of execution for a highly visible stand of trees that was scheduled for harvesting.
The 21-hectare cutblock on Green Mountain, easily seen from the ski slopes on Apex, will be left alone while Sn’pink’tn Forestry, which had intended to log there, re-evaluates its plan.
That was one of the concessions contained in a five-party memorandum of understanding signed in late July and requested by the Apex Property Owners Association, which was concerned about visual and environmental impacts of logging in the area.
“It’s very positive progress. We’re very pleased with how Sn’pink’tn has stepped up,” said Jeff Brown, who chaired a committee formed by the property owners to press for the halt to logging activity.
“It was good to get everybody at the table and all talking the same language”
Sn’pink’tn, which is owned by the Penticton Indian Band, has a licence to harvest timber that’s been affected by pine beetles.
The first part of the block on Green Mountain was clearcut last summer to preserve what value was left in the trees there.
The company had planned to finish off the final 21 hectares this summer, but agreed in June to a 30-day moratorium, which preceded the MOU, partly in response to property owners’ concerns.
Sn’pink’tn didn’t return a call for comment, but the MOU states the company was planning modifications to its plan for the cutblock “because of changing dynamics of managing the mountain pine beetle epidemic within the area including the reduction in beetle activity recognized in the fall of 2012.”
The region is covered by the Okanagan-Shuswap Land and Resource Management Plan, which suggests visual quality objectives be kept in mind while planning any resource extraction in recreational areas such as Apex.
Those objectives for the original cutblock “were exceeded to address active beetle attack conditions at the time of the cutting permit approval,” according to the MOU.
It goes on to note that Sn’pink’tn will “review harvest options” for the remainder of the block, and “the parties accept the outcome is not likely to propose zero or the full 21 hectares be harvested.”
The agreement also sets out the company’s commitment to consult with property owners on future logging plans in the area, and notes the desire for all parties to get together in the fall to discuss wildfire management.
Other parties to the MOU are forest companies Weyerhaeuser and Gorman Bros., plus the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Tom Siddon, who represents the Apex area as a director for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, praised the groups involved.
“It was good to see that all of the parties have given their support to this interim process that follows the 30-day suspension,” he said.
Siddon said the MOU sets out a “clear procedure for full public involvement in any decision about further logging.”