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No logging in Gibsons Aquifer Recharge Zone

No logging in Gibsons Aquifer Recharge Zone

(Open letter to Stacey Gould, BC Timber Sales Manager)
Our organization would like to comment on a series of BCTS blocks planned on the south-facing slopes of Mt. Elphinstone directly above the Town of Gibsons within the identified Gibsons Aquifer Recharge Zone. The largest block is TA0519 (to be sold 2023), with blocks to the west, TA0521 (to be sold 2020) and TA048 (to be sold 2022). We have valid concerns that roadbuilding and logging will have a negative impact on the hydrology of this recharge zone and thus conclude that these blocks must be removed and cancelled from future schedules.
The blocks have been previously commented on by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), which raised similar concerns. Minutes from an April 2020 meeting copied below for review.
Staff Report to Planning and Community Development Committee – April 9, 2020 BC Timber Sales (BCTS) Operating Plan 2020-2024 Page 8 of 17 2020 April PCD Report BCTS Operating Plan 2020-2024.
“Logging on steep slopes, in headwaters areas, above developed communities adds to the existing identified risk of slope instability, flooding, debris flows and ravine instability. This risk increases again when it is coupled with the new normal of increased frequency of winter storms and increased intensity of rain events. Blocks such as T00519, which is the headwaters of Chaster Creek, on a steep slope above known hazardous areas, inherently adds risk and stormwater management responsibilities for downstream property owners, land managers and service providers. Staff’s understanding is that forest licensees are not required to manage stormwater beyond the cutblock. A 2019 Forest Practices Board report is quoted in a recent CBC news article as saying, “there is no legal requirement for licensees to consider downstream private property or road infrastructure.”
The Town of Gibsons has written to BCTS several times expressing concerns over logging in the Town’s main natural asset – it’s a world-renowned Aquifer. A past council applied for a Watershed Reserve status over the slopes of Mt. Elphinstone in hopes of controlling industrial activity in the mapped recharge zone – without success. They have spent a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars studying the dynamics of their aquifer to hopefully protect it from adverse impacts, such as logging.
See the quote below from the Town’s 2018 Aquifer mapping report that clearly points to the forested slopes where the blocks are planned as being essential areas for recharge functions.
“Three significant aquifer recharge mechanisms have been recognized for the Gibsons Aquifer. These include mountain block recharge, creek recharge, and recharge windows through the Capilano Alluvium. The environmental tracer study indicates that the Mt. Elphinstone mountain block potentially contributes 55 percent of the recharge to the Gibsons Aquifer. This recharge estimate will vary with climate and anticipated climate change thought to be caused by global warming. However, climate change predictions and potential effects on aquifer recharge are somewhat uncertain and can only be quantified by long-term monitoring trends and assessment of cause-and-effect response in the aquifer.”
Please advise if any further developments have taken place with our Regional District’s request to select, based on their own criteria, a hydrologist to examine this logging proposal. Maintaining the natural conditions of the recharge zone has a higher long-term value to the residents of Gibsons than short-term timber revenues that benefit private contractors.
Based on the above concerns, ELF calls for BCTS to remove these blocks from the Gibsons Recharge Zone, and the Ministry of Environment call for them to be included in the Town of Gibsons “Aquifer Groundwater Protection Zone.” Without a fully functioning, intact recharging zone, an aquifer is compromised.
I look forward to receiving an acknowledgment that your office has received this letter, along with feedback to the issues raised.
Ross Muirhead,
ELF: Forest Campaigner

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