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logging train

Train wreck and Cal-Cheak sites subject to logging A timber licence grandfathered from 1909 may allow logging of the Cal-Cheak and train wreck areas north of Brandywine Falls. Representatives from Pacific Forest Products are scheduled to appear before Whistler council Monday to present their case for logging the two sites, which are currently used by cyclists, campers and hikers and which the municipality would like to turn into a park. Pacific Forest Products owns the timber on the two sites, known as Lots 320 (Cal-Cheak) and 324 (train wreck). The company likely won’t be able to do anything on Lot 324 this year, where a PGE train derailed many years ago, because the earliest it could get approval for cutting is this fall. However, District Forest Manager Paul Kuster said Wednesday he is prepared to approve selective logging of the Cal-Cheak site. The area, slightly more than 3 ha., is bordered by the Cheakamus River and the BC Rail line and visible from Highway 99. It also includes some unique features, including a cinder cone and the basalt columns. "Cal-Cheak is going to be a bit of a showpiece," Kuster said. "I’m going to be looking forward to seeing the cutblock after its done. I trust it will be an example of what can be done in a recreational site. The integrity of the forest, I believe, will still be there." Kuster said smaller diameter trees will be left standing because he doesn’t feel clearcutting would be acceptable at the Cal-Cheak site. He said the cinder cone will be protected and the Cal-Cheak recreational site will not be touched. He doesn’t believe there are any trails in the area which will be lost. However, the prescription — the master document for how an area is to be harvested — for the Cal-Cheak site is to log the area by conventional means, that is, by building a road in and skidding the logs out. Kuster said the road will be deactivated when selective logging is completed and will likely become the basis of a mountain biking trail. A zone of unlogged forest will remain around the area to be selectively logged, but the buffer zone won’t be as thick as is now required under the Forest Practices Code. The Cal-Cheak prescription was written last year, before some aspects of the Forest Practices Code came into effect. As a result, the untouched buffer zone adjacent to the Cheakamus River and the railway will only be 30 metres, rather than the 50 metres now required by the code. "I don’t see that the integrity of the river corridor will be damaged because of the 30-metre buffer," Kuster said. "It’s going to be the gentlest possible form of logging. I believe a good job will be done." Monday’s meeting with council will be to explain the plan, Kuster said. That may not sit well with council, as Mayor Ted Nebbeling has been hoping to develop a comprehensive plan to preserve the whole area which he said "holds tremendous recreational potential." Both lots are identified on municipal maps as proposed parks. The train wreck site is only about 1 ha., but it includes some large, old growth Douglas fir right at the wreck site. The prescription calls for clearcut heli-logging of the train wreck site, but Kuster said there is still time for public discussion on what will happen at the site. The train wreck site falls under the Forest Practices Code and will require a 50-metre buffer zone of untouched forest. The timber licence means Pacific Forest Products owns the timber, even though it’s on Crown land. Kuster said trying to work out some kind of land swap is unlikely. "There are so many areas in the Soo Timber Supply Area under review for protection and for spotted owl territory," Kuster said. "As well, we had a 13 per cent reduction in the annual allowable cut the first of January, on top of an 18 per cent cut in the annual allowable cut in 1992." So finding land or timber to swap for Lots 320 and 324 would be difficult. Kuster also noted the area is designated for integrated resource management, meaning it is a multiple use area, rather than a single-use area.

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