Friday, January 14, 2011

Clayquot Sound : the Danger Mounts

[Pristine Flores Island, in Clayoquot Sound : soon to be
logged - image from the Wilderness Committee]

My friend Christine Lowther, a poet and environmental activist who has lived in Clayoquot Sound for almost two decades, sent out the following alarm this morning. She addresses it  
"To all who care about Clayoquot Sound":


It is. That designation does not protect it!

Yes, Clayoquot Sound is no longer being cut by multinational corporations and is being cut by Iisaac, a First Nations-run company. BUT the rate of cut is increasing with more, not less, raw unprocessed logs leaving the Sound for who-knows-where, instead of staying at home creating more jobs with value added industries. Yes, tree retention is going down while cutblock size is increasing. Cedar, spruce and hemlock are the trees being logged; ALL hemlock trees go to pulp rather than value-added products. This means old-growth trees still going to paper (including toilet paper) in Clayoquot Sound. Surprised? Not only that, this happens under Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC).

Still buying unrecycled toilet paper?

On the ground, these clearcuts look like bombsites, the few skinny trees left standing soon to be blowdown, with huge stumps evidence of what was. Additionally, spilled oil was found in a salmon stream headwaters; the culvert was crushed. It's almost like the bad old days!

On Flores Island, Ahousaht territory, there is bright red new road flagging plus Helipad notes sprayed on cedar trunks. To flag and paint this area, trees have had to be cut for access - this is BEFORE the permit has been granted. This is some of the highest volume forest in Canada, meaning massive trees, the last of the planet's ancients. Iisaac was always supposed to shift to second growth forest for their logging, and to shift from raw export to value added manufacturing. But they have to log to pay off their debts from when they bought the tenure licence from Interfor, one of the companies that used to ravage the Sound, and in the scrambling to keep meeting interest payments these shifts have not been made.

The unnamed creek on Flores where the road flagging and helipad marking is, across from McKay Island? If Iisaac logs it, then the Memorandum of Understanding they signed with several environmental groups will have been disregarded. Yet that is evidently the plan. At the time of signing, the MOU was billed as a peace treaty in the "war in the woods" - a peace that has held for eleven years.

What can we do? As well as writing to government, write to Smartwood, the certifying body for FSC wood. Tell them their certification is meaningless in the case of Flores Island, and that certifying wood logged on Flores will backfire. And yes, it's important to write to the provincial government - the people who tell the Tla-o-qui-ahts it's illegal to declare tribal parks. The government needs to recognize already that STANDING forests have crucial value as the whole planet's best defence in times of changing climate. Every ancient tree stores loads of carbon, as long as it's left alive. Letters do help, and as Dan Lewis says, "Small changes add up quickly."

[Note: Catface Mountain, which Chris speaks of below, is a beautiful sight, right across the harbour from Tofino, much loved by the locals. It was so named because the mountain has "ears" and looks like a cat.]


Imperial Metals still have drilling to do on Catface Mountain. This means more helicopters flying in and out, and more terrifying blasting I can hear all the way to my floathouse in Lemmens Inlet, Meares Island. Trust me, the seals don't like it either. If you check out "mine blasting" on youtube you'll get an eye-opener (and an earful).

Catface is surrounded by salmon streams and rich ocean waters; and within sight and sound of the town of Tofino. Just behind Catface is White Pine Cove, where I once came face to face with a curious young cougar. This spot, the home of such wondrous creatures, would probably become the project's crushing site/processing area, if the mine goes ahead. This mine would be one of the biggest industrial projects on Vancouver Island and would remove the top third of the Mountain, including its ancient temperate rainforest.

Not only that, but Imperial want to explore for gold in Tranquil Inlet, and to do so they first have to reopen six kilometres of old road that has grown in nicely with alders. The Tla-o-qui-aht, whose territory it is, are divided over this, just as non-natives are. As well, Imperial want to run hydro lines a long way through Tla-o-qui-aht territory in order to power their Catface explorations (Catface is Ahousaht territory).

Musical artist Vanessa Lebourdais is currently making a music video against the mine. What a good idea! There are letters to write, music to make, street theatre, art - our only limit is our imagination.

Please send an email or letter to the minister - it will make a difference!
Send your letter/email to:

Steve Thomson, Minister of Natural Resource Operations

Please CC to:
Steve Carr, President & Chief Executive Officer,
Integrated Land Management Bureau

Pat Bell, Minister of Forests, Mines and Lands

Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Write to:
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy,

Mines and Petroleum Resources

If you email, CC it to:
Premier Gordon Campbell

[Thank you, Chris. I'm on it!!]

[rally for Clayoquot - image from the Wilderness Committee]


  1. I know. I feel better after posting my excerpts from Jane Goodall's book though. She still has hope!!!!!


I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!