The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)

The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)

Tolko urged to halt planned logging above Greater Vernon water supply

RDNO says planned cutblock above Duteau Creek could threaten 60 per cent of Vernon area water supply

The Regional District of North Okanagan is urging Tolko Industries to halt plans for a cutblock near the Greater Vernon area’s primary water source.

The Duteau Creek water intake — also known as the Headgates — is located 500 metres below the proposed logging activity. It supplies 60 per cent of the water that services the Greater Vernon area, the RDNO said in a Thursday (April 22) press release.

Tolko, a Vernon-based lumber manufacturer, is planning to log on top of a steep slope directly above “this vital source of water,” the RDNO said, adding its engineers and a hydrologist on retainer are “very concerned” that this logging and the remaining partially cleared land on the block could lead to a landslide or debris torrent, which in turn could damage the water system.

The RDNO received notice on April 9 that the logging would be taking place in May 2021.

“Based on the current information available, the risk to water quality and quantity is unacceptable to the RDNO,” the release states.

The RDNO has been in talks with Tolko about the cutblock since it first became aware of the logging plan back in 2016, but says Tolko has “made marginal changes to their plan in response,” and officials are unconvinced that the risk has been properly addressed based on the information Tolko has provided.

The district is requesting that work on the cutblock be paused within the watershed boundary, until Tolko engages with the district to find a solution that protects drinking and agricultural water supplies, while allowing the company to access fibre.

“The board adamantly opposes the current proposal to log (this) Tolko block,” reads a staff report to the RDNO board Wednesday, April 21.

“We want to be clear. The RDNO is not opposed to logging or forestry operations. We have serious concerns about logging at this specific location, and we are asking Tolko to pause and work with us so we can find a mutually beneficial solution,” said Kevin Acton, chair of the RDNO board.

In response, Tolko communications advisor Chris Downey told the Morning Star they received the RDNO’s letter two days ago and are currently evaluating its contents.

Downey said the proposed cutblock is within the Timber Harvesting Land Base, which B.C.’s chief forester refers to when drawing up annual harvesting levels.

The disagreement appears to be on the level of expert opinion: while the regional district’s engineers and hydrologist saw red flags in their assessment of the cutblock, Tolko’s review of the site came to the opposite conclusion.

“Tolko’s staff geoscientist field-reviewed the site and produced his professional evaluation and report, which indicated that it would be safe to harvest in the area,” Downey said, adding Tolko has shared its report with the regional district.

Tolkso argues there is a benefit to harvesting the area, as it would create a fire break that could slow the spread of a wildfire were one to occur there.

“Additionally, old logging roads would be removed along with our temporary new road at the end of the process and the area would be replanted,” Downey said, adding that “several” planning assessments were completed that support Tolko’s move in this direction.

“We all depend on the Duteau Creek community watershed for our water supply, and this is why Tolko has worked hard to develop a good relationship with the Duteau Creek Watershed Technical Advisory Committee and the Regional District,” Downey said.

READ MORE: Province pauses plans to log Rose Swanson Mountain area in Armstrong

READ MORE: Former BC Tree Fruits Kelowna packinghouse listed for $20M


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

forestryWater

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
All adults in Rutland, Summerland now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Province expands age range to 18+ for vaccinations in ‘high transmission’ areas

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Penticton RCMP search for 2 suspicious men

Police searching the area of Arawana Forest Service Road

The Penticton Vees concluded the shortened 2021 pod season Sunday, May 9 in winning fashion against the Cranbrook Bucks at the South Okanagan Events Centre. (Cheri Morgan photography)
VIDEO: Penticton Vees end pod season atop BCHL standings with 18 wins in 20 games

The Vees collected their 18th win of the season Sunday night against the Cranbrook Bucks

Dust control is underway this week in parts of Osoyoos. (Contributed)
Dust control work gets underway in Osoyoos, with a warning for pets

Pets should stay off the product for the first six hours after it is applied

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Shuswap shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read