The forest, the trees

🕔Nov 25, 2016

I have lived in the Bulkley and Babine watersheds for 30 years now. I owned and operated a  successful tourism business in the Babine watershed for 28 years. With Smithers lawyer Richard Overstall’s help, I started the Babine River Foundation. Later, the Babine Watershed Monitoring Trust was born from Richard’s fine advice. I have been to countless land-use meetings, made  numerous trips to Victoria to lobby government and raised millions of dollars to promote watershed stewardship. So I think I have an informed opinion about logging in the Babine watershed and imagine that what I have learned from that can be easily related to all watersheds under logging development.

I have met a lot of folks influential in the stewardship realm and I have met some amazing and professional people in government who really try to make a positive difference for wild values. But I have learned that logging interests have totally compromised any positive notion that we are managing the forests for anything but fibre for the  mills—end of story.

The widespread and fast-growing reach of logging development into pristine salmon bearing watersheds should be a massive wake up call to anyone concerned about wild salmon and all wild ecosystems that salmon support. By the time we stop one pipeline or reverse any real climate change effects, the salmon will be long gone as a result of logging and open-net-cage fish farming, not to mention the overharvest of non-enhanced salmon on the Skeena. A massive annual allowable cut directed towards prime watersheds like the Babine, Morice and Copper will be the eventual demise of the wild salmon way before any pipeline gets built. We have plenty of examples of the results in other watersheds that were once wild, and any pipeline spill is insignificant in comparison.

I feel as though we, in the North, have our heads in the sand when it comes to really understanding wild watersheds that contain wild salmon and all the other values that are supported by them.

The almost complete and utter destruction of wild forest ecosystem values is what I am talking about. The rate of cut, short-term, mid-term and long-term, will transform our public forests into fibre plantations. As a result, the other values represented by fish and wildlife, plus the trees and plants themselves, will all be lost in such a significant way that we could not possibly recover them.

So I say: wake up watershed residents and stop playing this ignorant rant while the fox is in the henhouse of a deluded reality. It is very disappointing to see us all buy into the wrong fight at the wrong time. Trash-mouthing pipelines is sexy right now—I get that—but let’s take aim at the real threats first or at the very least mount a full assault on all  the greed, not just a small part of it. — Pierce Clegg