Ministry encourages compromise in Pritchard logging

'There's no trees to hold back anything anymore'

The province will encourage a forest company with rights to log in watersheds above Pritchard to work out differences with residents of the rural community.

The board of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District asked the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations on Thursday to place a stop-work order on logging in the Martin Creek and Laveau Creek watersheds.

Residents in Pritchard who depend on shallow wells are concerned about quality and quantity of water available if logging occurs in a 64-hectare area in the creek's headwaters.

A joint venture by Tolko Industries Ltd. and Neskonlith Indian Band has a licence to take the equivalent of more than 1,000 logging truck loads of timber from the watersheds of the two creeks.

Pritchard resident Kevin Corea said Friday previous logging over the past decade has resulted in higher flows in creeks in spring and lower flows later in the year. That includes a flood in 2002.

"It all comes down at once because there's no trees to hold back anything anymore."

Corea said Tolko agreed to leave greater setbacks from creeks and steep areas to assuage concerns. But he and other residents believe it is the sheer number of cutblocks - some proposed as large as 14 hectares - that jeopardize their water downstream.

Rick Sommer, manager of the Thompson Rivers forest district in Kamloops, said cutting permits have not yet been issued. The province has directed Tolko and the Indian band to speak further with residents.

Several experts with the ministry have already toured the proposed cutting areas.

"My desire is to have proponents and the community carry on the conversation and work though the issues."

But Corea said changes offered thus far don't fundamentally change the fact thousands of cubic metres of trees will come out of the watersheds.

"What's that going to do to our groundwater?"

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