Logging planned for Moresby’s mushroom-rich forests

  • Jul. 18, 2008 5:00 p.m.

A large group of mushroom harvesters, concerned about how BC Timber Sales’ plans will affect a prime picking area, met in Tlell Monday night (July 14) with BCTS staff. The meeting, organized by Lynda Dixon of the Haida Gwaii Local Foods Processing Cooperative, attracted about 30 islanders. Enrique Sanchez, planning forester for the Chinook business area, told the group that BC Timber Sales plans to develop 30 cutblocks in the Skidegate and Mosquito Lake areas over the next 10 years. The wood, second-growth hemlock and spruce, is located in the same area as some of the islands’ most popular and accessible chanterelle picking spots. Mr. Sanchez displayed a map of the area with the proposed cutblocks outlined in different colours, with known chanterelle-producing areas and potential mushroom habitat also marked. The information on the map came from a preliminary mushroom study, he said, and he is interested in more precise information from the pickers about where the chanterelles are growing now and whether there are areas which have stopped being productive, to further refine logging plans. The Skidegate Lake and Mosquito Lake cutblocks will be selectively harvested rather than clearcut, Mr. Sanchez added, and harvesting will meet the new eco-system based management standards. But several members of the public asked why the area has to be harvested at all, and warned that any kind of tree cutting could be bad for the mushrooms. “You seem to be coming from the view that this area needs to be harvested,” one man said. “Why is this area begging to be logged? I don’t understand.” Mr. Sanchez said that BC Timber Sales is mandated to harvest a certain amount of volume, and that the Skidegate/Mosquito Lake area is one which it inherited through the Tree Farm Licence “takeback” a few years ago. “Stands in the area are between 50 and 60 years old and are of commercially viable size,” he said. However, he admitted that there does not seem to be much of a market for this wood at the moment. BC Timber Sales has already advertised four sales in the area which did not attract any bids. Those four sales will be re-advertised. BCTS is now busy developing another seven sales in the area for this year, staff said. Other members of the public asked whether BC Timber Sales has done any studies on the value of the chanterelles compared to the value of the timber, or compared how many jobs are created by each resource. The answer was no. Planning for the next five years has already been completed, Mr. Sanchez said, but if the mushroom pickers have information it will be considered as foresters develop the cutblocks which will be offered for sale after 2013. Mr. Sanchez ended the presentation by asking interested pickers to send him contact information by Sept. 15. He will then arrange a meeting between the pickers and a biologist who is coming to the islands in the fall. He also left three large maps with the group. The Haida Gwaii Local Foods Processing Cooperative is now putting together a working group to gather pickers’ concerns and bring them forward to BC Timber Sales.

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