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Road construction on Begbie Bench prompts call for open house

Road building work in the Begbie Bench area in preparation for winter logging has sparked a call for an open house on the issue, to be held this Friday.

Stella Jones, the logging company that holds the timber rights in the area, organized the open house after concerns were raised at a meeting of the City of Revelstoke’s Economic Development Commission about the impact of the logging in an area widely used for recreation.

“We heard that there was enough interest, enough questions so we’re going to have some information on how we got to where we are today and where we’re planning to go,” said Ashley Ladyman, a forester with Stella-Jones.

The open house will take place at the Revelstoke Community Centre this Friday, Nov. 16, from 3-7 p.m.

Stella Jones sought comments on the logging plans with an ad in the Times Review in May and we reported on the plans in our May 23, 2012, newspaper, including reaction from the Revelstoke Cycling Association. Recent road closures in the area to prepare for road building sparked recent interest in the logging plans.

That sparked a call by Loni Parker, the director for Area B of the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District for Stella-Jones to hold a public hearing.

“It’s unfortunate the information about this logging didn’t become widely known at the outset,” she told the Times Review.

The logging is set to take place in two cut blocks on the lower Begbie Bench area, along the Quarry and Hemlock Groove trails, according to Ladyman. Road building has already taken place and the plan is to log over the winter and then rehabilitate the trails in the spring.

Parker pointed to the Begbie Falls Integrated Resource Plan that was developed in the early 1990s. The local level plan was developed after Bell Pole (now Stella-Jones) announced plans to log in the area in 1990. The plan set out guidelines for balancing resource extraction with the recreational attributes of the area. It also cited the visual impact of logging as a reason to restrict it.

The plan set a maximum clearcut size of five hectares and, while Parker acknowledged the plan was obsolete due to changes in government regulations, she said Stella-Jones should still abide by it.

“From a legal perspective, that’s fine, but from a moral perspective, I think this is a special, unique area and that’s why we had that planning process back in the nineties,” she said. “Clearly the recreation attributes to the area have been showcased to the world and people have coming here for mountain biking, for rock climbing and for skiing.”

For Stella Jones’ part, Ladyman said the company plans on rebuilding all impacted trails in the area once logging is completed in the spring. “I plan on biking them myself,” he said.

 

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