By Heather Ramsay–Lack of activity within the Queen Charlotte Watershed Advisory Committee raised eyebrows at last week’s council meeting.
Mayor Carol Kulesha reported to council that she seems to be the only one willing to be on the committee.
The Ministry of Forests district manager Len Munt directed Teal Jones, the company with a license to log in the watershed above the town, to form the committee. The mandate is to review hydrological and other assessments of the area and make recommendations to Mr. Munt.
The first meeting was held in July, when a hydrologist presented a draft report. Since then, no other meeting has been called said Mayor Kulesha.
She is still waiting to hear about the terrain stability assessment, but was told by Dale Morgan, forester for Teal Jones, that he was waiting to hear back from other participants.
Leslie Johnson, a member of the public at the council meeting, said she doesn’t want to see a lack of reply by other members of the committee used as a way for the process to fall through the cracks and logging in the watershed be approved.
“The other people were government employees and should through their work be at meetings,” she added.
When the Observer called Mr. Morgan a few days after the council meeting, he said to assure residents nothing is going on behind people’s backs.
“It’s not a secret process, its just a slow one,” says Dale Morgan.
He said, although he has the terrain stability assessment and a visual impact assessment, he has held back from organizing another meeting for a variety of reasons.
For example, on January 4, he received a letter from the Council of the Haida Nation and the Skidegate Band Council saying they will not participate in the committee.
Because Mr. Munt mandated him to have representatives from the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Forests, Ministry of Environment, an environmental health officer, the Queen Charlotte council, Skidegate Band Council and the Council of the Haida Nation, he is not sure now how to proceed.
He has also been delayed because the area directly above Queen Charlotte is designated a cedar archaeological area and a cultural cedar area in the Haida Land Use Vision. These areas are in limbo due to the memorandum of understanding between the province and the Haida.
He is waiting for direction from the Ministry of Forests on these matters.
In the meantime, his company has also decided to hold off on preparing Forest Stewardship Plans for any of its licenses because the process is having problems province-wide, said Mr. Morgan.
Being a small company, Teal Jones is waiting to see how larger companies navigate through the process before proceeding.
“We’ll only wait a certain amount of time though,” he said.
He says the public will have opportunities for input and Mr. Munt told him a public meeting would be held.
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