Culturally modified trees face axe in Naden Harbour

  • Wed Oct 11th, 2006 5:00am
  • News

A recent decision means several culturally modified trees will be cut in Naden Harbour, the first approval of its kind since 1996.
On Sept. 8, QCI Forest District Manager Len Munt approved Husby Forest Products cutting permits on two blocks, known as Stanley 28 and Naden 120.
Ten years ago a culturally modified tree policy was drawn up by industry, the province and the Haida which laid out management guidelines for trees that have been scarred or modified by traditional practices, such as bark stripping and plank removal.
Since that time no culturally modified trees have been cut or impacted, except for the odd one with the CHN’s approval, says Mr. Munt.
Mr. Munt says the policy aims for consensus agreement on management of CMTs, but the policy also states: “In the event resolution is not achieved on specific issues, provincial legislation will be adhered.”
His decision allows for 20 of 82 CMTs in Naden 120 to be impacted and 18 of 63 CMTs in Stanley 28.
Mr. Munt is well aware of the contentious nature of his decision.
“It is very difficult to make these decisions,” he said. He says archaeological sites are very important to the Forest Service, but he also has to balance that with socio-economic needs.
Husby has a volume license and the company’s areas of operation have already been limited by a variety of conservation measures, he says.
“If it is not within area identified for conservation, then licensees say it is reasonable to consider the area for operation,” he says.
Mr. Munt also took into consideration that areas of archaeological and cultural importance have been set aside by the province and the CHN to provide options for the future.
The Haida, on the other hand, have consistently said that impacting CMTs is not acceptable. The areas in question have been identified as an “archaeological forest.”
CHN president Guujaaw says this particular area is important because of all the bark stripping. “A lot of weavers used that area for hundreds of years.”
Guujaaw also brought up concerns about Husby’s lack of success when it comes to protecting CMTs that have been left standing in a cut block.
He couldn’t be reached for further comment, but in the October 2005 Haida Laas he says “Our people had made attempts to work with the ministry and the forest industry to protect the workplaces of our ancestors, and in spite of some success, have been rebuffed by Husby logging, who chose to use his own archeologist for prescriptions, which has resulted in the destruction of the precious forests through trying to serve his own economic interests with narrow buffers which failed to protect the integrity of the forest.”
Bob Brash of Husby Forest Products says the company does not have a definite plan of when cutting in the area will begin.
“It is not unusual to get a cutting permit in advance and sit on it for awhile depending on the operational needs,” he says.
He says all the legislative and regulatory requirements have been met, and he has already received a site alteration permit from the province’s archaeology branch.
“Because of the recent decisions on Part 13s and a myriad of other land deferrals, any approvals you can get are necessary,” he says. “It’s really that straightforward.”
He says permits for harvesting CMTs are commonplace up and down the coast and in these blocks the vast majority of the CMTs will be protected.
Mr. Munt says the Forest Service will be closely monitoring the work around the CMTs left standing.
He agrees this decision sets a precedent, but says the district will take all future approvals into consideration on a case-by-case basis.
Although he would not comment on what the next steps were for the Haida, Guujaaw told The Observer the RCMP had already been out to the area to have a look.
Bob Isaacs of the Masset RCMP confirmed this. He said officers went to look at the area, in case anything happened out there.