RDNO 'adamantly opposes' planned logging close to Duteau Creek watershed

Logging plan opposed

The Regional District of North Okanagan is strongly opposed to a planned logging operation near the Duteau Creek watershed.

The RDNO received notice April 9 that Vernon-based Tolko Industries intends to begin logging in May on a cut block 500 metres above the district's Duteau Creek water intake.

The RDNO is urging Tolko to halt its plans until both parties can find a mutually beneficial solution.

In a report to RDNO directors April 21, the utilities department advised that the board “adamantly oppose the current proposal to log the Tolko block ... and instruct staff to undertake the necessary actions to support this opposition.”

The Duteau Creek water intake supplies 60 per cent of the water for Greater Vernon, and Tolko's proposed logging activity is on top of a steep slope directly above the water source.

According to the RDNO, “removing many trees and disturbing land at the top of a steep slope can lead to geotechnical instability. Engineering staff and a hydrologist retained by the RDNO are very concerned about the potential that logging activity and the remaining semi-cleared land on this specific block could lead to the water system being damaged by a landslide or debris torrent.

“Based on the current information available, the risk to water quality and quantity is unacceptable to the RDNO.”

The RDNO has been in communication with Tolko about the cut block since first becoming aware of the intention to log the area in 2016.

In a press release, the RDNO has relayed its concerns, and “while Tolko has made marginal changes to their plan in response, the information Tolko has provided has not convinced the RDNO that the risk of damage to water infrastructure has been properly addressed.”

"We want to be clear. The RDNO is not opposed to logging or forestry operations. We have serious concerns about logging at this specific location, and we are asking Tolko to pause and work with us so we can find a mutually beneficial solution," said Kevin Acton, RDNO chair.

Castanet has reached out to Tolko for comment.

For the full report to the RDNO board, click here.

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