A Vernon-based lumber manufacturer is walking back plans for a cutblock just above the Greater Vernon area’s primary water source, saying the plans will be modified in light of concerns that the logging activity could pose a risk to local water supplies.
On April 22 the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) voiced its concern with Tolko Industry’s plan to log 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which supplies 60 per cent of the water that services the area.
The cutblock was to be developed sometime this month, but in a joint press release with the RDNO on Tuesday (May 4), Tolko said no harvesting or forest road construction will take place in the area of concern.
“(Tolko) will be altering harvest plans to exclude the area that is of concern to the RDNO,” states the release.
Tolko said its analysis of the area as a safe place to harvest — in contrast to the RDNO’s own analysis —hasn’t changed, but the company “appreciates the different priorities of the RDNO and feels that this is the best way to proceed.”
Tolko shared word of its new course of action with the RDNO and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development on Monday, May 3.
“Tolko has continued to work with the RDNO and the Ministry on these concerns over the past few weeks,” said Kevin Jewett, Tolko’s vice president of woodlands. “We value the collaboration we’ve had on this discussion as we explore options to plan and harvest our Annual Allowable Cut and keep our people working.”
Kevin Acton, chair of the RDNO board of directors, thanked Tolko for considering the regional district’s perspective and excluding the area of concern from its harvesting plans.
“We look forward to fostering this relationship and having positive discussions about watershed management and cooperation on areas of concern to our water infrastructure,” Acton said.