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Pemberton council threatens to block logging trucks

Weyerhaeuser wants to log in watershed above Signal Hill school

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Pemberton council, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and several Pemberton residents are on a collision course with two logging companies over a plot of land behind Pemberton’s Signal Hill elementary school.

In a lively council meeting Tuesday night the members of Pemberton council made it patently clear to two representatives from Weyerhaeuser/CRB Logging that they are opposed to their plans to log the hill behind the school and will "sit on the road in front of the trucks" if it goes ahead.

SLRD Chair Susan Gimse said later that if the project went ahead against the wishes of the community she would "join the council on the road in front of the trucks."

The trouble started a month ago when Weyerhaeuser, through CRB, gave notice that it wanted to amend its Forest Development Plan to include the timber behind the elementary school.

The problem is that that piece of land is visible from the village, and it’s also within Pemberton’s watershed, which means it could affect the two wells where Pemberton’s drinking water comes from.

What makes this project even more explosive is that by law, there is little the SLRD or Pemberton council can do to stop CRB and Weyerhaeuser except to ensure that the right people in the right places know how they feel.

According to the Tenures Officer with the Squamish Forest District, Andre Germain, the decision on this logging tender rests with District Manager Paul Kuster.

But even Kuster, in some ways, has his hands tied because, according to the Forest Practices Code, if a logging company fulfils all its obligations then the district manager must allow the project to go ahead.

Germain said there are several things a district manager can do even if a company fulfils all of its obligations, such as restrict the amount of logging that takes place or force the company to use certain methods to remove the logs.

"But if they (CRB and Weyerhaeuser) meet all the requirements under the Forest Practices Code then the district manager must ultimately approve it," said Germain.

"He can make demands of the crews to restrict how much they can log, but he can’t deny them the right to log."

Germain said that at this early point in the process it’s up to the public to ensure their voices are heard during the mandatory 60-day consultation process.

During the consultation process, which started on June 10, members of the public can view the logging proposal at the Pemberton library and are encouraged to write to CRB, Weyerhaeuser and/or the Ministry of Forests with their opinions on the project.

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