Nakusp, BC - Logging in Toad Habitat

Wilderness Committee Mar. 1, 2016

Nakusp, BC – Logging has begun in core western toad habitat near Nakusp, BC. Although conditions are poor for winter logging with a low snow pack and warm temperatures, the Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR) logging company began harvesting forested toad hibernation habitat on Monday.

“As a Summit Lake resident, I have spoken to hundreds of locals over the past two weeks – people are shocked and appalled that logging is being  allowed in core toad habitat,” said Debbie Pitaoulis. “We still have the opportunity to save the toads, do the right thing and stop this irresponsible logging right now.”

Harvesting could be stopped if the Village of Nakusp council, which owns the community logging tenure, issued a stop logging order to NACFOR. The Village of Nakusp has refused to meet with local residents opposed to the logging.

The harvesting of core western toad habitat near Summit Lake, 14 kilometres outside the Village of Nakusp, has been a contentious issue. Western toads are at risk in Canada and blue-listed in BC, and the Summit Lake population is considered provincially significant.

Each August, millions of toadlets migrate from Summit Lake across a dangerous highway, or through new safe toad-friendly culverts, into forested habitat where they spend the majority of their life. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has stated this migration is “among the great wildlife migrations in the world.”

According to local biologist Wayne McCrory, “The so-called best practices logging guidelines for toad habitat are on very shaky and speculative scientific ground. Studies tell us the best way to conserve western toads it not only to protect their breeding and migration areas but the core terrestrial habitats where they spend 95 per cent of their lives.”

The mayor of Nakusp recently spoke to the media about the impacts of their logging on toads, stating that “some will die,” and implied that killing toads was just part of the cost of doing business. McCrory considers this attitude a shameful disregard for all of the good research and conservation work that the Ministries have already done at Summit Lake to help out the toads. Even the three toad specialists involved in the government’s study and highway mortality mitigation study at Summit Lake have admitted that they told NACFOR the best option for the toads was not to log.

“It is a sad day for toads. Unfortunately, this logging shows how species at risk are managed in BC – a province with no endangered species law,” said Gwen Barlee, National Policy Director with the Wilderness Committee. “It boggles the mind that the BC government allows logging in core toad habitat after investing almost $200,000 to build a toad tunnel to ‘protect’ the toads. This type of irresponsible logging gives BC a black eye.”

In addition to the harvesting of core toad habitat near Summit Lake, NACFOR also recently logged important toad habitat at nearby Box Lake. Just 6.8 per cent of NACFOR’s tenure is in core western toad habitat.

“It is such a small area, but it is the only home that these fragile forest creatures – which live up to 10 years or more – have ever known,” said Janet Spicer, local business owner and long-time resident of Nakusp. “I earnestly ask that the BC government just give it to the toads.”

Concerned local citizens are asking for NACFOR’s tenure to be reallocated outside of core toad habitat, and that the tiny six-hectare Summit Lake Provincial Park be expanded to adequately protect the Summit Lake toad population.

5 Issues/yr — $25 print; $15 digital