Preliminary Stoltmann economic study complete Although an economic study on the potential benefits of designating the Stoltmann Wilderness Area as a national park is five months overdue — and nearly three months too late to support Liberal MP Charles Caccia’s Private Member’s Bill for the creation of the park — for many environmentalists, the timing of its completion couldn’t have been better. Grant Thornton, the company that was commissioned by the One Whistler group to generate the study, confirmed that a draft report has recently been sent out to One Whistler for review. One Whistler will take about two weeks to review the contents before passing it along to other stakeholders, and a meeting will be required to decide where it should go next. It isn’t known when the study will be made public. One of the key arguments made for the protection of the 500,000 hectare area is that any jobs lost by the logging companies will be offset by job creation in the form of recreation, tourism and eco-tourism businesses in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. The area — which stretches South of Whistler, West to the Pivotal Mountains, North to the Stanley Smith Glacier and Upper Bridge River and East to Pemberton — is also home to grizzly bears, salmon runs, and some of the oldest (1300+ years) Douglas Firs in the entire Coast Mountain range. "We’re excited to see what’s in the report," says Joe Foy of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. "We’ve said all along that we’d rather they take more time to do it right than do a rush job on it, and now we are being told we should have a copy of it near the end of the month." Foy says that the contents of the report are not only important for securing protection for the Stoltmann area, but across the province as well. "The Vancouver-Whistler corridor is one of the biggest tourism corridors in the province. We’ve seen in other areas, such as Clayoquot Sound, that when there is a slow down in logging the economy doesn’t slow down but speeds up. Look at Tofino. The slower the logging got, the faster the economy grew. We’d be interested to see if the report backs up the evidence that the same sort of boom can be expected in Squamish and Whistler," says Foy. "If the model works here, then it will work elsewhere in the province where they are having problems with resource industries." He points to the example of Golden, B.C., the home of a multi-million dollar skiing project over the next few years which is expected to take the place of a flagging local forestry industry. Eddie Roberts of AWARE is also looking forward to seeing the report, although he says that AWARE will try to push the conservation side of the issue rather than the recreational. "This report will hopefully give us some ammunition in helping get protection for key areas," says Roberts. "It’s one of the things we expect will help us to enforce the argument that a healthy forest is good for business." AWARE will be meeting on March 10 to put together their own proposal for the Stoltmann area. On March 13, the WCWC will having a Stoltmann day of action, with events planned across Canada and in the U.S. There will be a protest at the International Forest Products office in Vancouver, a protest at the government buildings in Victoria, an "endangered rainforest" tour of a lumber store in Toronto, a showing of Daniel Beaudry’s film "Hoods in the Woods" in Halifax, and a press conference in Boulder, Colorado dealing with the Sept. 15 incident where loggers allegedly attacked a protest camp in the Upper Elaho Valley.