Logging started in Lynch Creek North on Jan. 9, after the Midway mill Vaagen Fibre Canada successfully bid on the project.
The mill was the only bidder and was awarded the contract Jan. 8. The timing was right for the company because they had just finished a previous contract so they headed out to Lynch Creek the next day.
Fibre Supply Manager Chris Waters said the job was for approximately 20,000 cubic metres. Just over 87 hectares (215 acres) will be cut and he estimates that the logging will generate $1.3 million.
In the months before the contract was awarded, citizens – including the group Friends and Residents of the North Fork -- voiced their concerns over logging in the area. They said that Lynch Creek North was an important corridor between grizzly bear habitats and that logging in that area would put them at risk.
Waters said he understands the concern but feels that BC Timber Sales (BCTS) was thorough before they put the project up for bid.
“I think the plans that BC Timber Sales laid out… the parameters they set … were good. They implemented a good plan,” he said.
Vaagen completed another contract in Lynch Creek last year and Waters feels the results were attractive.
“It looked really good,” he said, adding that his staff is careful to follow the rules. “Our operators are real careful about working around residual growth.”
Brennan Clarke, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said “The Kootenay Boundary Land Use Plan calls for the Lynch Creek area to be managed for long-term timber production, therefore timber harvesting in this area is allowed and expected.”
Over 80,000 hectares (197,684 acres) of the Granby and Gladstone Parks are reserved to “balance economic growth and sound environmental stewardship in this region,” according to the Ministry.
They also said that government wildlife biologists studied the area and decided the grizzly bear population in the region is not at risk and that the landscape is considered a “low quality grizzly bear habitat.”
The mill had hoped to have completed the contract already, but the warm weather caused a setback.
“We had an early spring break-up,” said Waters, noting the roads have been closed. They have put off the rest of the work for about two months until the area dries up. After that, it will take another month to finish the logging.
Vaagen has a staff of over 70 employees but hires extra loggers and truck drivers from around the Boundary and South Okanagan, depending on how much work is available. Currently, they have about 140 people on staff.