Gordon Hamilton, Vancouver Sun, February 27, 2007
The B.C. government says forest companies must switch over to a new legally binding planning process by the end of March, raising alarms in Clayoquot Sound where the province has excluded regionally developed plans that ensure the sound retains its special ecological status.

"Legally, the Forests and Range Practices Act doesn’t include [Clayoquot] plans,"
said Dianne St. Jacques, mayor of Ucluelet, referring to a forests ministry
decision to implement a new planning process before the legal language defining
Clayoquot Sound’s special forestry practices has been written. "And we are not
clear on where this leaves us."

St. Jacques, a provincial appointee to the Clayoquot Sound Region Board, said
forest companies could ignore the region’s eco-friendly logging requirements yet
still be in compliance with provincial regulations. The board was established
under an agreement between the province and the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation
to oversee development plans in the region.

Board co-chair Jim Lornie said Clayoquot Sound is caught in the transition from
one planning regime to another.

"The dilemma is that forest companies have to bring new forward forest
stewardship plans by the end of March." But it could take up to 18 months to draft
the legal language required to make the Clayoquot plans binding by the ministry
of forests.

However, a representative of Iisaak Forest Resources, a logging operator in the
area, said the intent of the local plan will be honored until the province sorts out
the legalese. Mike Vitt, forest program manager for Ecotrust Canada, the
contract manager for Iisaak, said forest stewardship plans set minimum
standards. Iisaak intends to apply higher standards in Clayoquot regardless of
the legal quandary, he said.

Valerie Langer of Friends of Clayoquot Sound said the citizens throughout B.C.
want the area to have special protection. "It requires legal language to entrench
that," she said. "Hopefully this will light a fire under whoever is responsible for
this," she said.

ghamilton@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Sun 2007