Mount Elphinstone, located on the west side of Howe Sound between Gibsons and Sechelt on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, is designated as provincial forest. Current land use supports management for a variety of values, including forestry, water, wildlife and recreation.
Mount Elphinstone land use
- All forestry activities on Crown land are managed according to established legal objectives for protection of recreation, soils, timber supply, wildlife, water, fish, biodiversity (e.g., old forest representation), visual landscapes and cultural resources.
- Currently, parkland and open space available for recreation in the Sunshine Coast Regional District total 15,400 hectares, with approximately, 12,200 hectares classified as provincial park.
- Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park, which has three separate units totalling 139 hectares, was established in 2000 as part of the Lower Mainland Protected Areas Strategy.
- Since its inception in 2003, BC Timber Sales (BCTS) has operated on Mount Elphinstone to support timber pricing that ensures British Columbians get a fair return for use of Crown resources and to generate revenue for the Province.
- BCTS has consistently worked with local stakeholders to meet community concerns that include the addition of new old growth management areas, buffering trails of importance to the local community and incorporating specific measures to protect riparian and aquatic areas.
- There are no provincial plans to expand the existing provincial park. However, the Province is cognizant of aspirations of the Sunshine Coast Regional District and some community groups to enhance protection in the Mount Elphinstone area. Initiatives, such as modernized land-use planning (jointly lead by the Province and the shíshálh Nation) and the Old Growth Strategic Review, may influence future land management or use in this area.
Management strategies to address key values on Mount Elphinstone
- Old growth management areas are used to help achieve biodiversity targets and provide protection for a variety of forest values on the land base. There are more than 2,900 hectares in old growth management areas in the Mount Elphinstone area and some are established along Mount Elphinstone Park boundaries.
- At-risk rare plant communities exist across the landscape, including the Mount Elphinstone area, and are managed by maintaining or improving the amount and distribution of mature and older-age forests over time.
- As the forests grow older, particularly in areas designated to conserve or protect forest values across the landscape, the risk of losing adequate representation of these plant communities decreases. Ongoing BCTS management practices will result in an increase in the amount of older forests in this landscape unit, while still accommodating some timber harvesting.
- At the site level, rare plant communities are managed by foresters who locate the communities and incorporate management strategies into forest harvest and silviculture plans. At a site level, wildlife tree retention areas can provide additional representation of and protection across the landscape in conjunction with forest development planning as management strategies may specifically involve adjusting the shape or position of the cutblock to avoid the rare plant community or using the rare and endangered plant community to “anchor” a wildlife tree retention area.
- The Province continues to assess the effectiveness of this management approach for rare plant communities and will present a report to the Forest Practices Board, specific to Mount Elphinstone, by the end of 2019.
- In recognition of the importance that this area has to local residents, BCTS has reduced the average harvest rate to about 27 hectares per year on the south-facing slope of Mount Elphinstone – a rate of harvest approximately half the rate that the area can support.
- Over the years, BCTS has responded to input from various stakeholders who participated in the BCTS community consultation process, and blocks have been dropped or converted into old growth management areas.
Timber Sales Licence A93884
- Timber sales licence A93884, known as Clack Creek, first appeared in the 2008 BCTS operating plan that was shared with community groups, First Nations and local governments.
- As a result of stakeholder input, the size of the harvest area has been reduced by 30% and wildlife tree retention areas have increased by 20%.
- A93884 is comprised largely of second-growth forest with scattered Douglas fir veteran trees that survived historical fire or harvesting on the south face of Mount Elphinstone. Specific measures incorporated into the final design of A93884 exceed legal requirements, including:
- buffering a popular mountain bike trail from harvest;
- placing additional setbacks on streams;
- retaining veteran Douglas fir trees that survived historical fire and logging;
- removing areas that support development of the western red cedar/sword fern dry maritime ecosystem;
- reducing the harvest area to exclude patches of Rubus nivalis, snow bramble, a yellow-listed plant species;
- water quality monitoring during and after harvest for block C3MY, the eastern block;
- retaining 70% of the forest cover in block C46N (western block) as part of a long-term research trial.
- Timber sales licence A93884 was issued on May 9, 2019. Harvesting began on Jan. 10, 2020. The term of the sale is two years with the possibility of extension for up to two additional years.
- The licence of 29,499 cubic metres will support local employment and provide over $2 million in stumpage revenue to the Province.
- Public comments related to BCTS operations on the Sunshine Coast should be addressed to: BCTS.Powell.River@gov.bc.ca
- BCTS was established in 2003 to provide benchmark costs and prices from the harvest of Crown timber in British Columbia.
- Auctioning timber to the highest bidder allows BCTS to set long-term rates for tenure holders that ensure British Columbians receive a fair return for harvested timber.
- BCTS manages about 20% of the provincial allowable annual cut through 12 business areas.
- In 2019, BCTS generated $430 million in gross revenue for the Province, including $15 million from the Sunshine Coast alone.