Powell River/Eldred Valley

04 Oct 2016 7:24 AM | Allen Agopsowicz (Administrator)

The instigation of the concern for the access to Amon Rudh began when a group of climbers on the wall saw a helicopter drop off engineers at the base of the wall, thinking that fallers were beginning work in the area they were concerned and upset about the destruction of an old growth ecosystem and the access trail to the wall that was built in 2008.

Immediate action was taken in the form of social media outreach and an online petition against logging the old growth below the wall.  The local climbing community attended a meeting with Western Forest Products where we were assured that no logging was going to happen in the immediate future.  I have a verbal commitment from Western Forest Products to GPS the existing access trail to Amon Rudh,

I met with Darwin, the representative from Western Forest Products , this afternoon.  my purpose was to educate them about the recreational climbing development in the Eldred Valley, and to start a positive relationship with them.  I provided them with a map of the climbing trails already established and talked about the climbers camp and the history of climbing in the area. 

The Eldred Valley has the eyes of the global climbing community on it right now due to social media, its not the way I had imagined the Eldred Valley being portrayed to the world but its already out there.  The exposure has created pressure on the community and may have created an opportunity to make a real difference in how climbing and recreation planning in the Eldred is developed for the future.      Christie Dione


Comments

  • 23 Oct 2016 7:03 PM | Allen Agopsowicz (Administrator)
    by Jason Addy is a local mountaineer, rock climber and photographer.

    Something strange happened on the morning of Monday, October 3. A last-minute meeting about planned logging on Roberts Road by Island Timberlands (IT) was taken over by a representative from Western Forest Products (WFP).

    WFP operations planner Darwyn Koch showed up, assuming the meeting was about a small heli-logging block deep in the backcountry that he had just found out had a trail through it.

    The mix-up happened because two small but contentious parcels of forest came to the attention of local residents at nearly the same time and discussions erupted quickly on social media and became confused.

    The Roberts Road block in Stillwater borders one of the most beautiful country roads in our area. The road is closed off to the sky by the forest canopy above, so for a brief moment you become totally immersed in the forest. Sadly, IT plans to log its part of this forest any day.

    The other parcel, EL-681, located 60 kilometres north and at 700 metres of elevation, is a section of old-growth timber high up on a slope, which, at five hectares, is tiny by backcountry logging standards. There is a trail through this forest that leads to one of the best rock climbs in Powell River: On the Virg.

    Fortunately, WFP is not planning on logging this block in the near future. Local rock climber Christie Dionne, who was at the meeting, reported that WFP said they want to work with the community and come to a solution about the trail together.

    My guess is that the trail will remain with a buffer of trees alongside it; a compromise of sorts, but one that would still mean the loss of another piece of our dwindling old growth.

    These are just two examples of all of the forest being cut in this region every month. The mix-up of these two meetings was a good reminder that the logging we see happening in our neighbourhoods, in areas such as Millennium Park, Valentine Mountain and Roberts Road, are only a small reflection of what is happening in the backcountry.

    This town was founded on forestry and it will likely remain a big part of our economy. But without a long-term plan that does not rely on residents addressing problems in a piecemeal approach, essential forest values, both environmental and personal, will be lost to a liquidated landscape.
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  • 23 Oct 2016 7:04 PM | Allen Agopsowicz (Administrator)
    reprinted from the Powell River Peak

    Members of the local rock climbing community are working with representatives of Western Forest Products (WFP) to ensure trail access to a popular climbing spot in the Eldred Valley.

    The trail runs through one of the forestry company’s old-growth cut blocks that is scheduled for logging in 2018, according to WFP director of communications Amy Spencer.

    Climbers’ Access Society of BC representative and local resident Christie Dionne recently met with WFP. Dionne helped build the access trail in 2008 and said she is against logging the area.

    “It would be nice to see that old-growth stand stay in place as it is, because it is an intact, old-growth ecosystem, which is not easy to find nowadays,” said Dionne. “It’s also very, very steep, so rehabilitating that trail, or even a portion of it, is going to be very difficult once the falling has been done.”

    Spencer said the company is willing to work on a solution to the trail location, which is on the face of a wall deemed “Amon Rudh” by local climbers.

    “We have committed to GPS traversing the trail in order to know the exact location, as well as providing topographical maps of the area to the climbing community so other trails and climbing areas can be accurately mapped out,” said Spencer.

    Climbers in the area, which is located north of Goat Lake between Powell and Emma lakes, became alarmed about how soon the area might be logged when WFP dropped off crews by helicopter to assess the cut block on Thursday, September 29.

    “We were just doing some work laying out boundary ribbons and some assessment work,” said Darwyn Koch, WFP operations planner for Tree Farm Licence 39 block 1. “A geotechnical engineer was also looking at the soils. In this case, logging is about a year and a half out, and that’s the plan as of today.”

    The cut block in question, EL-681, is about 10 hectares in size and the total area is divided between five small openings on the steep rock face.

    Robert Richards, a local climber who said he has extensive experience in the forestry industry, cited logging in the Eldred Valley as just one example of industry’s negative impact on recreational activities.

    “It’s always been that they just do what they want and that extends to ignoring the obvious, which is the potential for this area to draw world-class climbers who come from all over the place,” said Richards. “Unfortunately, when these climbers get here they are faced with industrial abuse in the backcountry.”

    An online petition against logging activity in the area touts the Eldred Valley as a world-class rock climbing and alpine mountaineering site on par with the Yosemite Valley. It states that logging in the area has threatened access since the early 1980s and asks for support “to convince [WFP] to stop logging the last remaining old-growth forest and destroying established industrial access to public lands.”

    Koch said a flurry of online activity around the potential logging was premature and WFP has had a long history of communicating with the public and recreational groups in Powell River before logging begins.

    “As the development of this block is in its infancy, it is subject to change based on many factors, including the geo-tech engineer’s recommendations, terrain stability and negotiations with first nations and other users, such as the rock climbing group,” said Koch. “The block shape and configuration today may or may not be the harvest area that will eventually be submitted to government for approval.”

    Dionne said since the climbers share the Eldred Valley with WFP, she is interested in meeting with the company regularly so the best solution for all parties can be reached.

    “I’m excited to work with them to get our climbing trails into their system, so there’s less conflict,” said Dionne. “I’d rather work positively with the logging companies because we do share the same valley, and having them willing to work positively with us is a bonus.”

    WFP Tree Farm Licence 39 block 1 is a working forest on Crown land. The company’s tenure has been in existence since 1961.
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