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General News · 16th December 2008
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In case you missed it in the most recent Howling Wolf...

In the last issue of Howling Wolf, you saw several articles that included comment, information and action on Island Timberlands’ plans on our unique and sensitive island (Acorn’s “Beyond Carrington”; Christine Robinson’s “Stream Magic”; and Mario DeRose’s “Dancing Between the Lines”). You may also have heard that since the July 3 community meeting with I.T., an open forum for has been created to explore alternatives to industrial logging that can meet the needs of ALL stakeholders in the Cortes forests. Dedicated individuals have been making some great progress towards this goal. Here is an update:

Communications with Island Timberlands:
Georgina Silby and Carrie Saxifrage recently visited Island Timberlands representatives Makenzie Leine (Sustainability and Community Affairs) and Chris Dawes (Director of Real Estate) in their Nanaimo office. They went as concerned citizens with deep concern for and knowledge of the forests (but notably not as community representatives). As a gift, they brought a basket overflowing with mushrooms from Cortes.
Some highlights of the meeting included:
I.T. still claims to have no clear plans regarding logging on Cortes. Makenzie stated that the markets mean that their plans for logging on Cortes are on hold, but that the economic viability of logging here could change rapidly. At the same time, she is researching eco-forestry models.
I.T. restated a commitment to exercise a community consultation process before any machine work begins, although Makenzie gave no reassurance about substantive matters that might be included in the consultation. Chris is also interested in participating in our Official Community Plan review.
I.T. is not currently interested in selling their land as is, but instead intends to hold the land and implement a 70 year plan. However, the future for their lands in general seems to involve gradual sales of land as residential areas expand toward I.T.’s holdings. Chris felt that it would take a very high offer to interest them in selling their Cortes holdings at this time.
Georgina and Carrie discussed the deep engagement of the Cortes community in forestry issues, and the extraordinary number of committed, experienced and influential individuals and groups on the island. Carrie urged the I.T. representatives to use Cortes as a valuable resource in creating a new model, rather than force it to become a reactive obstacle to standard logging practices. Georgina urged Makenzie and Chris to consider sale to an entity that would accommodate the community’s interests in ecosystem integrity.
Both representatives were happy to have chanterelles to take home for dinner. Georgina walked through the office with the mushroom basket, ensuring that many people got a glimpse of the goodness of our lands.

The visit to Island Timberlands’ office was followed shortly by a letter from Darshan Sihota, company president. He starts by clearly stating I.T.’s rights and intentions to “manage [their Cortes holdings] for the production and harvesting of timber.” He goes on to express pride in his employees for their diligent work in achieving several forestry certifications and maintaining a respectful relationship with their neighbors. Sihota says “As a good neighbour, we communicate with our neighbours about our plans, listen to their legitimate concerns and, where possible, make adjustments to reflect these concerns. We do not feel that it is too much to ask of our neighbours that they return the favour.”
Sihota finishes by reiterating the message that due to uncertain economic factors, they “have no immediate plans to carry out timber harvesting activities on our lands on Cortes Island.” He plans to continue the dialogue with Cortesians, and our last communication from Makenzie also states that she is still taking community input (contact information below).

Individuals have also been active on the ground:
Despite I.T.’s current resolve not to sell their Cortes holdings, there are some local community members and friendly lawyers working towards an innovative purchase option in case they are willing to sell in the future. This option, at its core, has an agenda to see the valuable forest lands put into community control, and managed in an ecologically sustainable manner. Initial research has been very encouraging.
Thanks to an anonymous donation, WildStands has been able to partially fund the Island Timberlands Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory map that David Shipway writes about in this issue. Stream mapping also continues, and has yielding some exciting and encouraging results - please see Christine Robinson’s letter also in this issue.
This detailed map work nicely complements the eco-mapping of the I.T. parcels, a valuable form of action which needs a lot more effort. Accurate maps could allow meaningful negotiations, as well as preparations for potential eco-gifting schemes as part of the purchase option. Moreover the 'joy of mapping' the forest is a brilliant activity yet to be discovered by more local folks - it is personally enriching to build such an intimate relationship with our local forest lands. Highly recommended! There will be another training session soon to facilitate this mapping project.

How to get involved:
Perhaps (hopefully!) you’re wondering how you can contribute to the tremendous amount of rewarding work that there is to be done. If you would like to contribute your energy and skills, there are many ways to be involved. The best way to learn more is to come to a WildStands open forum meeting, every Thursday at 7pm (to confirm the location: 935-6995 or pomegranateresist.ca).

A petition to Island Timberlands can be found at all the usual locations - please sign if you encounter it!

You can also contact Island Timberland directly with your questions and concerns:

Main office: 5th Floor, 65 Front Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5H9
Fax: 250-468-6829

Darshan Sihota, President
250-755-3531, dsihotaislandtimberlands.com

Bill Waugh, General Manager: Planning & Forestry
250-468-6823, billwaughislandtimberlands.com

Makenzie Leine, Sustainability & Community Affairs
250-755-3500, mleineislandtimberlands.com

If you would like to contribute financially, donations are gratefully accepted at the Quadra Credit Union under the account name WildStands. You can also send cheques to WildStands, PO Box 47, Manson’s Landing, BC, V0P 1K0.

Finally, a huge thanks to all the wonderful people who are coming together to make this endeavor so rewarding. What a joy it is to live in a community that holds its home so dear!