An old harvest area to the northwest of Rolley Lake. (Val Ashton/Special to The News)

An old harvest area to the northwest of Rolley Lake. (Val Ashton/Special to The News)

Trail user concerned about logging near Rolley Lake

Cutblock will be near trails, but not inside the park boundaries

A woman who lives near Rolley Lake has been fighting logging on the western borders of Rolley Lake Provincial Park, and complains the City of Mission should do more to notify the general public about coming cuts in the municipal forest.

Valerie Ashton said the upcoming logging will create eyesores along Rolley Lake trails – not impacting the popular loop around the lake itself, but on offshoot trails that link up with the Rolley Lake Trail.

“Right now you can go through a beautiful, green, lush forest, and sometimes have it to yourself,” she said.

When she runs into people, they may be local, or people who come from Abbotsford or Vancouver for these hikes. Ashton said in the future, people will be walking on trails alongside clearcuts, and none of them she speaks with are aware that the cuts are coming.

The City of Mission operates a tree farm, and Ashton is not accusing the city of anything illegal. However, she believes more residents of Maple Ridge and Mission would have protested if they knew the logging plans. She has been protesting, even asking the province for an expansion of the parks boundaries, to no avail.

“By the time I found out, it was already a done deal,” said Ashton.

A retired respiratory therapist, she regularly spends between 2-4 hours walking trails around Rolley and Hayward lakes. She’s a Mission resident on the border of Maple Ridge, she has lived in the area for 22 years. But complains that she was somehow unaware of these logging plans, until work was under way.

The city has announced plans to cut in four blocks to the immediate west and south of the park boundaries, and it will build or expand roads into the harvest areas.

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The city’s director of forestry offered Ashton a detailed explanation of the coming harvest, and Chris Gruenwald also gave this information to The News, and made himself available for an interview.

Gruenwald, who is a registered professional forester, notes the annual allowable cut for the municipal forest is 85 hectares out of the 10,900 in the forest, or about 0.7 per cent per year. He said the city has a legal obligation to meet the annual allowable cut in the municipal forest it has managed since 1958.

There are unauthorized trails near cut blocks, and loggers will not harvest right up to the trails. With more than 40 km of trails within the municipal forest, it is impossible to completely avoid logging near them, Gruenwald told The News.

There is also hemlock dwarf mistletoe, which stunts and can kill trees, in the harvest area, he said. The city will replant common native trees, including Douglas fir and western red cedar – as the latter was the dominant species before European contact.

Gruenwald said the city tries to minimize environmental disruption. While the maximum cutblock size is 40 hectares in the region, these planned cutblocks average 3.3 hectares each. They also use higher-cost harvesting techniques, he said, to minimize ground disturbance.

Gruenwald said the harvest helps keep taxes low in the city. His department has contributed more than $15 millions for large capital projects to date, including a new library and new fire hall, updates to the leisure centre, and most recently $1 million for the new Boswyk Seniors Activity Centre.

He has had numerous discussions with Ashton, and his assessment is “she just doesn’t like harvesting.”

And while the municipal forest is near areas where people go for wilderness recreation, he points out that it’s not a park.

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