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Wrecked roads could dip into emergency funds The Squamish Forest District is asking the Provincial Emergency Program for up to $500,000 to repair Forest Service roads damaged by last month’s heavy rains. According to Ken Paterson, a district engineering officer with the Squamish Forest District, an estimated $485,000 worth of water damage occurred on roads during the last rain cycle and the district office is looking to the PEP office for help with the repair bill. "The last rains definitely were a very heavy storm event and in fact we may get provincial emergency funding on some of our damaged forest service roads," says Paterson, adding the Squamish office has yet to get a reply regarding their request for funds. The idea of having the Provincial Emergency Program offset even some of the cost has local Search and Rescue officials wondering where the NDP government’s priorities lie. Local search and rescue operations are non-profit societies run by volunteers who commit their time and effort to training and preparing for rescue situations — which happen often. "If the province has enough money to take care of poorly engineered roads, then they should have enough money to fund local search and rescue organizations," says Brad Sills, Search Manager for the Whistler-based Search and Rescue group. Search and rescue members are volunteer organizations who receive funding from the Provincial Emergency Program only when they are taking part in an active rescue. During rescue operations food, travel and lodging is paid by PEP and groups are reimbursed for lost or damaged equipment. While the Squamish Forest District makes millions of dollars off stumpage fees charged to licensees, the PEP program is constantly threatened by the budgetary axe. Paterson says the Forest Service is only seeking emergency funding for Forest Service roads. Roads constructed by logging companies are their responsibility and any damage must be repaired by the licensee. One example is a large land slide in the Ure Valley on the east side of Lillooet Lake where Interfor has been carrying on extensive logging over the past two years. The Ure Valley is one of the traditional burial grounds of Mount Currie’s Lil’wat People and the was blocked two years ago by members of the Forest Action Network and a group of Lil’wats. One section of the Ure operations road has slid right down to Ure Creek, carrying logging debris from an adjacent clearcut and mud with it. Paterson says licensees have to come up with a plan to repair the damage, adding some of the land slides occur naturally and others may be attributed to "a road not properly maintained." The Forest Practices Code, which became law June 15, sets out stringent guidelines for road building and allows for the levying of heavy fines if work has not been carried out correctly. "All of the cases are looked at individually and if they are in violation of the (Forest Practices) code they (licensees) will be penalized under the code," Paterson says.

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