Rossland council concerned with clear cuts

Council brought up concerns about clear cutting near Nancy Greene Lake at the Aug. 16 meeting.

Rossland councillor Kathy Wallace brought up concerns about clear cutting near Nancy Greene Lake at the Aug. 16 council meeting.

“I find Atco doesn’t seem to use forestry practices in time with today’s tourism and economy and what we are trying to build,” she said of the Fruitvale-based logging company which holds forest licenses in the area.

“I would like to ask them, or do we just accept it?”

Councillor Hanna Smith went one step further.

“I suspect the provincial regulations should be looked at and a change with regulations be made.”

Compared to highway practices, “forestry practices are superb,” said councillor Laurie Charleton.

Mayor Greg Granstrom defended the company, suggesting that there may have been a pine beetle issue in that area.

“They’ve been pretty good at logging in our area regarding view scape,” he said.

Granstrom promised he would contact Atco to discuss the issue with them.

An audit of Atco’s forest practices was conducted in June this year by KPMG Performance Registrar Inc., one of the world’s largest professional audit firms. It gave Atco full marks.

The scope of the audit included: forest management planning; water resources; biological diversity; visual quality and recreation benefits; protection of special sites; efficient use of forest resources; fibre sourcing conservation of biological diversity; legal and regulatory compliance; forestry research, science and technology; training and education; community involvement, land management responsibilities; communications and public reporting, management review and continual improvement; and more.

Besides all the noted woodlands operations, the audit also included fibre procurement activities for the company’s veneer plant in Fruitvale. It was noted that fibre was not procured from outside Canada or the U.S.

Auditors looked at site plans, made field trips and checked on the use of qualified logging professionals and resources.

If a forestry company were found to have major issues, it has to address them immediately. For minor infractions, a company would have 30 days to conduct an audit and three months to implement corrective changes.

A number of good practices were identified. It was noted at that Atco has an excellent silviculture program which includes site prep, trail re-contouring, and diverse tree species planting. It also uses innovative water control to reduce erosion, and a “very comprehensive and accurate visual impact assessment plan and post-harvest evaluation program.”

Atco also maintains an effective working relationship with recreational organizations, and participates in the West Kootenay resilience and climate change program.

KPMG found no non-conformance issues; and only two items of “needs improvement” were noted: a lack of providing enough information to contractor crews, and the lack of conducting a planned internal audit in 2011.

Hence, the company’s woodlands operations “meet the requirements of the 2010-2014 version of the SFI standard in all material respects.”

As a result, Atco was granted certification for the next three years.

To view the complete audit, check out http://www.sfiprogram.org/AuditPDFs/Atco%20SFI%20Audit%20PS%20Report%202011.pdf

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