Like many wonderful ideas, I can’t take credit for it.
In May of 2015 George Orchiston made a Freedom-of-Information (FOI) request to the Municipality of Powell River.
The intent was to obtain correspondence between the City and Island Timberlands, the Powell River Waterfront Development Corporation (PRWDC), and PRSC. You can read all 89 pages of the official response to him here.
Shortly after Ellen Gould relayed that document to me, she crucially asked what I thought about the language contained in the timber harvest licences . This happened while I was trying to map past forest logging from satellite imagery, Ellen was helping to map clearcuts in the field, trying to enlist legal opinion on behalf of the Powell River Forest Coalition. Between us a crazy notion was born.
Some months later I’d managed to convince two other people of the beautiful irony of trying to save mature fir and cedar by decorating 15 year-old alder trees with yellow ribbons (think Charlie Brown Christmas trees). We yellow ribboneers had great fun, donations paid for most of the cost of flagging tape, I thought some of the resulting photos were pretty good – and in the end the idea never really took off.
Except that the trees are still standing. The legal timber harvesting rights of Island Timberlands are now a little clearer, even if the responsibilities of PRSC towards the people of Powell River and Tla’amin are not. And that, I hope, may provide grounds for more informed discourse about what is possible for those lands.
So, because images can help put things in context, here’s the essential what, where and why behind “The Yellow Ribbon Project”.
Click on any thumbnail to invoke a full-screen slide-show…
To provide some context, here’s a map of the “Sino Bright” portion of the PRSC lands.
Although some logging has occurred in the past, there are still some fine trees standing – especially next to Upper Millennium Park.
Given the contract signed in 1998, the terms are very clear. Despite changes in land-ownership over the years, Island Timberlands has cutting rights for all trees standing as of 31 May, 1998.
Hmmm. Let’s think about that for a moment, shall we?
Downloading the relevant Landsat 5 imagery and combining bands 4, 5 and 1, we can determine how much, and when, logging occurred on this land. Recently harvested cutblocks appear as light green “blobs” on this image from September of 2000.
So effectively, Island Timberlands does not have harvest rights for these 15 year-old alder trees.
In fact, they have already exercised their harvest rights over about 21% of the 132 acre Sino Bright land parcel.
This poses a bit of a conundrum, because Island Timberlands will need to get the trees that they do own out somehow
Island Timberlands was helpful in showing a map of the planned “timber-removal-path” map at their excellent and well-attended information meeting on 28 October (theirs is the inset map at lower left). Of course, when asked, they wouldn’t give me a copy…
The problem is, they will have to cut a lot of young trees to do it…