Firewood is a vital source of heat energy on Cortes Island. Some think of it as our secret sin. There may be more environmentally conscious people here than any other part of British Columbia, per capita, yet we use a more carbon producing energy source than coal. This is the season when we cut and stack it for the coming winter. It’s also time to have fun with firewood.
There is a little spot of Eden just outside of Gibsons. A 7-kilometre-long network of trails guides visitors along Roberts Creek and through the old growth forest. Sampling a slice of nature at Cliff Gilker Park can be an afternoon’s experience, or a short relaxing walk.
During a recent interview, film maker Damien Gillis said “there would be a great deal of outrage” if the public knew the degree to which we subsidize logging old growth forests. These subsidies come in the form of lower stumpage fees for the remote areas where most of our surviving ancient forests still persist. Gillis also informed me this is a central issue in the United States’ softwood dispute with Canada. After the interview, I drew up a series of potentially embarrassing questions about BC’s stumpage rates.
It has been a year since the Wilderness Committee drew our attention to the planned logging of old growth trees in the central Walbran Valley. So far, the controversial heli-block 4424 has remained untouched. Since last November, Teal Jones has been logging 6 or 7 cutblocks in the more easily accessible areas south of the river. They are already clearcutting the Walbran’s thousand-year-old trees.
Most of the great forests that once covered the West Coast are gone. Though there is still an extensive canopy, the trees are scraggly compared to the stumps and historical photographs left from decades ago. The clear cutting in British Columbia is so extensive that, since 2003, the forests have been emitting rather than storing carbon. Some call for a more environmentally sensitive industry and an example of Cortes Islands quest for sustainable logging is about a mile from my home.