LETTER: As the trees disappear, so do the fish

How I identify with the theme of Murray Chantler’s poem An ode to towns vanishing Trees (The NEWS, Letters, Feb. 6). Not only are the trees being destroyed in Parksville but they are also disappearing at the same rate all over Vancouver Island.

Unseen by many, the pristine watersheds of most Island rivers have been systematically logged for the last 50 years and the destruction continues unabated today. A case in point is the beautiful Englishman River, once home to the iconic steelhead trout and rated 20 years ago as one of the best rivers in B.C. Now almost completely devoid of life, and logging in the upper watershed is the most significant negative contributing factor.

Mirror that scenario on at least another dozen or so east coast streams and you have a recipe for a modern day tragedy that is still playing out. I hear a myriad of stories telling me of yet another river valley decimated by the loggers in pursuit of their god, the almighty dollar.

The old guys who have lived here most of their lives and fished tell me of how it once was. A pristine environment which resembled as close to one’s definition of paradise as possible. Many of them no longer fish because the steelhead are no longer there.

Bob Hooton, in his new book Days of Rivers Past, says, ‘Surely, in the vastness of this great province there is a steelhead stream or two where fish, fishing and the environment are worth prioritising ahead of timber extraction, mining, water storage, power production, etc.’

If the provincial government fails to address the management of these issues it will preside over the demise of a legacy available nowhere on the planet.

No doubt about it, we are close to the end game in respect of the survival of steelhead on Vancouver Island. It’s not too late to save what is left, but now is the time for government to step up and show brave leadership.

Keith Hyett


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