Island Timberlands is logging 25 hectares of their land between Hamilton Marsh and the Inland Highway, leading to concerns about the popular wilderness area.
“We want to make sure the public knows what’s going on,” said local birder Sandra Gray.
“It is private managed forest land and we’re harvesting second-growth timber,” said Island Timberlands spokesperson Morgan Kennah, of land between Hilliers Road South, Highway 4 (Alberni) and the Inland Island Highway, near the Qualicum Beach exit.
Gray said residents were worried they are trying to sneak the logs out at night, but Kennah said they are following provincial requirements by doing the work at night when there is less disruption to traffic in the area.
Kennah said the public can use the land as long as people are respectful and obey signs to stay out of areas like that currently being harvested.
“We’ve allowed public access to Hamilton Marsh for several years and we work closely with the Brant Festival which we allow to have an activity there every year for the festival,” said Kennah.
With over 257,000 hectares of forest on Vancouver Island, Kennagh said Island Timberlands typically has multiple harvesting operations going on at any time and choose where to harvest based on many factors like weather, soil condition and the current needs of the market.
The company also considered the timing of the Brant Festival, bird patterns and tourist traffic in scheduling this current local harvest, she said.
“We have no development plans at this time,” she said of the property. She said the company plans to keep managing it as forest and is not currently scheduled to log closer to the marsh, across Hilliers Road from the current work.
Of the 25 hectares being harvested she said the company typically leaves about 25-30 per cent as buffers along riparian areas, water features and some single trees for esthetics.
“They will be logging within five metres of the edge, which is way too close for comfort,” Grey said, pointing to efforts to fundraise and raise awareness to make Hamilton Marsh a park.