Back in the early spring of 2002, the BC Liberal government of then-Premier Gordon Campbell lost no time in rolling out a massive assault on BC’s world-famous provincial park system, slashing park budgets, laying off rangers, closing park interpretive centres – even cutting essential supplies like toilet paper. It was all done to appease Campbell’s most powerful supporters, owners of the province’s major logging, mining and fossil fuel companies, that saw parks as competitors for raw resources.
After the budget cuts, the government in Victoria brought out the chainsaws and bulldozers. In June 2002, a large logging company, International Forest Products, proposed building a logging road through several kilometres of Manning Park to log out Ghost Pass Valley. Located on the western flank of the park, the heavily forested valley is not only home to a popular hiking trail, but also is designated as spotted owl habitat. The spotted owl is one of Canada’s most endangered species.
This was just too much for the Wilderness Committee. It took three weeks of raising a ruckus – but eventually the BC government cancelled the road and logging plans. Whew!
We thought Manning Park was in the clear. We were wrong.
In 2003, the BC government quietly issued its own logging company, BC Timber Sales, a Parks Use Permit for an existing mine access road to the Manning Park Donut Hole – a 5,800 hectare wild area sandwiched between Manning and Skagit provincial parks, left unprotected because of a pre-existing mine tenure.
Then in early 2004, clearcut logging commenced in spotted owl habitat within the Donut Hole.
The Wilderness Committee scrambled to stop the logging, but the surprise attack by BC Timber Sales succeeded in leveling a string of clearcuts. Public outrage was so intense that the provincial government eventually declared all of the low elevation forests in the Donut Hole off-limits from logging, to preserve spotted owl habitat.
John Horgan is in charge these days. Will he rein in BC Timber Sales before the view from Silverdaisy Peak is scarred and the Manning Park Donut Hole is gutted and stripped of key wildlife habitat?
But what would happen to the high elevation forests? In June of 2018, BC Timber Sales was back, constructing logging roads into high elevation forests that are important grizzly bear habitat. Some of the planned clearcuts are smack dab in the viewshed of Silverdaisy Peak, a popular hiking destination accessed via a trail that starts in Manning Park.
But there is a new sheriff in town.
The NDP’s Premier John Horgan is in charge these days. Will he rein in BC Timber Sales before the view from Silverdaisy Peak is scarred and the Manning Park Donut Hole is gutted and stripped of key wildlife habitat?
It’s time to call a truce in the war on Nature launched by former Premier Campbell. This hole in the parks needs to be fixed now. Our new government in Victoria must act fast to acquire the mineral tenure and then add all of the Donut Hole to our protected area system.
Joe Foy is the national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee.