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General News · 13th October 2012
John Drew
In the summer of 1975 I made my first trip to Cortes at the invitation of friends. The VW bus was loaded - four kids ages 1 to 5, dog and cat - we were going to camp in an abandoned apple orchard up above Reedy Beach on Haig Lake.
The ferry trip across from Quadra was exciting for all of us especially for my two girls then aged 3 and 4. On the ferry was a nice young man wearing a dress. My girls were fascinated and followed him around the ferry like a couple of hunting dogs on-scent. They tracked and reported on his every move including details of the bathroom that he used. Beyond the conversation about accepting individual differences with tolerance and understanding, I felt I’d come to the right island: a place with the ideals of Paul Bunyan, the Age of Aquarius, along with an essence that felt almost spiritual. I still feel that way.
Last December I retired and moved to the island alas to find my ideal place being denigrated by some who were insistent on force-fitting their ideology on the island, unconcerned as to the consequences and divisiveness. This puzzles me as I presume most of these folk are on Cortes for the same reason I am; freedom to “be” and “do” in a beautiful place. Taking on our rather defenceless - but job creating - corporate citizen seems like poor sport in a down economy when many of our young people are leaving the island for work. Suggesting passive solutions to the plight of our forests - nature will solve our forest ills if we create more parks and map the wet areas and wait long enough - seems to be both unaware and uninformed. Suggesting we prevent sensible development on the premise that we mustn’t break up the forest is ludicrous when we all live on subdivided forest land; land, which without a substantial effort, is heading back to forest.
I’m not surprised that some want to set aside the IT lands at Carrington to create yet another park; they include some nice stands of trees. These stands are splendid for two primary reasons: they are generally on good sites - the old homesteaders had an eye for fertile soils and the water they needed to make a go of it - and these sites were logged in the last hundred plus years and, as a consequence, opened up to Douglas-fir regeneration which needs the light to get going. These stands are splendid when compared to the generally damaged, high-graded forests of much of the island; forests that are primarily composed of over-mature, conk-ridden hemlock and cedar and not a lot of Douglas-fir. Taking pleasure in not allowing IT to operate doesn’t seem biologically or economically smart, particularly if it erodes the soul of the island to bring this about.
Before we mobilize around some off-island driven, anti-logging agenda - with its pseudo-environmental values, its professional revolutionaries, its desire to control - let us remember that our island’s way of life - our soul, even - is badly in need of protection. Deify trees if you wish; use nature as a portal into the transcendental if you like; hug a tree if it makes you feel better; wear whatever dress you like. However, if the consequences of your railing against IT adds to divisiveness and walks-over the rights of others, I say take a yellow card. Remember that “Playing nice!” is an early beginning of most moral codes.

John Drew
October 10th, 2012