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MLA Dan Ashton backs Penticton group trying to stop logging near recreation area

The group is opposed to a cutting project that will alter popular trails just outside of Penticton

Support is continuing to flood in for the Carmi Trails Recreation Group’s initiative to stop the logging slated for near the Pine Loop, Squirrel Loop and Fir Loop trails located 10 minutes outside of Penticton.

Neda Joss, one of the organizers with the group, said that there was a full house at their meeting on Nov. 12 that outlined B.C. Timber Sales (BCTS) plans regarding the cut blocks in the area, and what she and others had learned on a guided field trip with BCTS on Oct. 12. The clear cut would see the widening of these recreational trails for logging trucks to access the area, something Joss and others are against because it would threaten the natural landscape of the trails.

Related: Proposed logging around rec trails sees public opposition

“We went through a PowerPoint presentation and filled people in on what BCTS had proposed to us on Oct. 12.,” said Joss. “These people wanted to be informed and wanted to know what they could do to help stop this.”

Joss launched an online petition last month against the cutting project in the area, which has now garnered around 1,400 signatures. She said the meeting was also an opportunity to hear ideas from other trail users.

“We had some good comments come up from other people there,” said Joss. “And we’re going to be sending our petition to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development (MLA Doug Donaldson).”

The group is also running a letter campaign with the support of local MLA Dan Ashton. Those opposed to the cutting project that will be taking place near the trails in the new year, are encourage to send letters to Ashton that he can bring to Victoria on Nov. 20.

“I’m encouraging the group to get me as much information on this as they can, and I will bring that with me to (Donaldson’s) office and the ministry,” said Ashton. “Having grown up in Penticton and knowing and being active in that area, number one it’s a recreation area that has a terrific amount of proven value for the citizens of Penticton and area. It’s my understanding schools go up there also. And, number two, I know that the fibre supply is tight, but I know that there are areas that have proven recreational value and those should be excluded (from logging).”

Related: Trail group sick of “fools” dumping garbage

Ashton said he first learned of the project in February of this year, with his “initial understanding that there would be selective logging in the area but the trails would still have a barrier between the logging blocks.” He said there were also changes that reduced the project from a “massively large cut block to a specific area of logging.”

“It’s my understanding the trail areas are going to be used for mobility into the (logging areas), and I think that a recreation area that close to the Penticton that is utilized on a continual basis — in all four seasons — should be left untouched,” said Ashton.

Ashton noted that the B.C. Government and the ministry are “cognizant and trying to do their best to manage the forest as a renewable resource” and that there is a tight supply of fibre in the South Okanagan. He said his opinion is that “the infrastructure of the trails are what is being challenged” by this project.

Joss said the group is hoping to plan a Carmi Trails Appreciation Day between Christmas and the New Year but no plans have been formally made. The group will be presenting their initiative to the Penticton city council in the near future in order to request their support.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter


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