Powerhouse Plunge in Squamish BC to be logged- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Powerhouse Plunge in Squamish BC to be logged


    Powerhouse Plunge in peril
    Mountain bike riders mobilizing

    By John French

    A key section of the Test of Metal mountain bike route is being ravaged by motorbikes, according to race organizers — and if the machines don’t ruin the trail first, road builders might carve it up in a few years.
    The Powerhouse Plunge is a challenging downhill technical section of bike course that is loved and cursed at the same time by Test of Metal competitors and regular users of the trail.

    When Cliff Miller, president of the Squamish Off Road Cycling Association and Test of Metal race director, learned there was talk of logging the area near the Mamquam run-of-the-river power facility owned by TransCanada Power he shared his knowledge and there was an immediate reaction from the mountain biking community.

    Miller met Tuesday (April 19) at the Forest Ministry office with a number of other stakeholders interested in the area.

    He said one key player, BC Timber Sales, was not in attendance so no firm decisions were made except that there will be at least one more meeting in the future.

    Miller’s concerns are shared by the Lava Springs Water Company, which draws water for bottling from a well in the area.

    Mayor Ian Sutherland isn’t very worried about impacts the on the District of Squamish (DOS) drinking water wells in the area but he is concerned about the future of the Test of Metal and the private water company.

    Mick Gottardi, the DOS director of community development, attended the meeting to speak on behalf of the DOS.

    “We wanted to make sure everyone knew our concerns,” Sutherland said. “We respect the right of other things to take place in that area but if we can find a way to accommodate everybody that is our preference. There is a solution to be had that is a positive one for everyone.”

    According to Sutherland, DOS staff will follow up by meeting with a representative from BC Timber Sales next Friday (April 29).

    Andre Germain of the Ministry of Forests office in Squamish said BC Timber Sales is meeting with concerned groups to discuss issues of concern. He said the sides will try to address their differences and if they can’t come to agreement the acting district forest manager will make a decision on what happens with the trees.

    Miller said if the area is logged a new road will cross the trail two or three times.

    “In essence you will be riding through a clear cut with road crossings,” Miller said. “It would take away from the experience of being in the woods. The bigger question is between recreational and water extraction compared to forestry. What is the highest and best use for this land? For the $2 million that plot is going to generate once in 60 years versus the $8 million in mountain biking plus the value to the water company far exceeds the value of the timber.”

    Miller said those opposed to the proposed logging are supporters of industry and they don’t want to be tagged as forest industry detractors.

    A group called Save the Plunge (STP) formed this week to lobby for preservation of the trees.

    Miller said STP stickers and t-shirts will be made and sold to help support the cause.

    While efforts are under way to save the Plunge from logging motorized vehicles pose a more immediate threat to the trail. The heavy vehicles are damaging the trail and Miller is worried damage from motor bikes will jeopardize the race this June.

    DOS Council decided this week to instruct staff to come up with a bylaw aimed at clamping down on motorbike riders who use trails closed to mechanized vehicles.

    Sutherland said many complaints about motor bikes have been logged in recent weeks despite installation of new signs pointing out areas where motorized vehicles are restricted.

  2. #2
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    Save the Powerhouse Plunge
    Letters to the Editor

    Let’s start off by saying that I would not normally write to a newspaper but this issue has got to be brought out in the open.

    For about eight years I was the trail maintenance director for the Squamish Off Road Cycling Association (SORCA). Part of that job was to act as liason between the local Forestry Office and SORCA. We have always had a good working relationship and have never complained about the impact that logging has had on our trails.
    We understand that people have to make a living. As a matter of fact we have gone out of our way to try to inform riders about the areas being worked on, time frames for the work, posted keep out information on our web site etc.

    So what has me ticked off enough to write to the editor? We have recently been informed that there are plans to log what is one of the most important trails in our system. The Powerhouse Plunge is not only one of the most unique trails in North America but it is a key component in the Test Of Metal.

    So when I talked to Guy Freed at Forestry (in Chilliwack – yes, most of the decisions affecting our forest district are now made in Chilliwack) and asked why this one area could not be left alone, I was told that decent timber is so rare that to meet their quota they had to cut this block. Stunned silence on my part.

    What we are being told is that because of the mismanagement of past forestry practices that we, the recreational users of our own land, should have to pay the price today. Sorry, but that doesn’t wash with me.

    We are going to fight for this cut to be stopped. Now I don’t think that we are asking for too much here. After all it’s probably not much bigger than the area of Stanley Park. Not so much in such a big province, eh?

    So, let’s take a look at the economics of this. The proposed cut has a value of approximately $2 million.

    Maybe eight or 10 jobs for three months or so? The Test of Metal and mountain biking contribute several million to Squamish’s economy annually.

    Should we allow a myopic government policy and decisions made outside of Squamish to ruin one of the real bright spots in Squamish’s future? I think not!

    It’s time to make some noise and have our voices heard. Give Guy Freed a call at (604) 702-5738, give Forestry Minister Michael de Jong a call at (250) 387-6240. Call the mayor. E-mail your MLA. In short, make it known that we’re not going to take this one lying down.

    In closing I would like to make it very clear that this is not an anti-logging issue.
    This is an anti-stupidity issue and I hope that you will join us in our fight to Save the Plunge.

    Brad Walkey


  3. #3
    roots, rocks, rhythm
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    Mar 2004
    Now I am pi$$ed off.......logging, motercyles and now stupidity. (and not in that order.....)
    I can't stand how near sighted company's/government's are for the love of money from a couple of tree's compared to the long term return from the mountain bike scene.

    Public pressure and lobby the government is the answer, if they are willing to listen???

    (I feel alittle better.......I need a ride.)

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  5. #5
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    Email from SORCA (Squamish Offroad Cycling Assocciation)




    The Squamish Off Road Cycling Association (SORCA), has recently been
    informed that there are plans to log one of North America’s premier mountain
    bike trails – the Power House Plunge.

    Why is this trail so important?

    The Powerhouse Plunge is one of the premiere trails in Squamish’s mountain
    bike network, and was recently rated by Men’s Journal as the 3rd best in
    North America. The legacy of Squamish's trail network is fulfilled through
    the efforts of many local individuals who put in countless hours building
    fun, scenic and sustainable trails like the Plunge.

    Recreational runners, mountain bikers, and hikers alike enjoy the Plunge,
    year round for its lush forest scenery. This would be gone if it were
    logged. People do not come to Squamish to ride through cut blocks. It is the
    fun, well maintained trails in a forest setting that brings people to
    Squamish to ride, run, or hike.

    The Plunge is also a key component in several mountain bike and trail
    running races, including the Test Of Metal (www.testofmetal.com). This is
    one of North America’s most popular mountain bike races – a race that
    recently sold out all of its 800 spots in only five days. The Test of Metal
    has become such an important part contributor to Squamish’s economy and the
    local recreational community that the District of Squamish is considering a
    proposal to make the Test of Metal course, of which the Plunge is central, a
    permanent fixture.

    According to SORCA’s research, the Ministry of Forest’s plans for the area
    include two road crossings which SORCA estimates will eliminate
    approximately 25% of the trail. Also, only a 20m buffer will remain on each
    side of a trail that provides a unique opportunity to experience being deep
    in the forest.

    There is a potential for the both short and long term impacts on the trail,
    as the Plunge could be closed to logging due to activity for weeks and maybe
    months on end. This would not include the time needed to repair trail damage
    posed by logging activity. Depending on the time of year this could displace
    numerous recreational users, and potentially have a serious financial impact
    on Squamish, as these recreationalists head elsewhere.

    One must not forget that the proposed cut areas are also directly above the
    newest groundwater supply for the District of Squamish. This supply is set
    to become the primary water source for the growing needs of Squamish. The
    question remains on what impact such a cut will have on this supply?

    Non Negotiable

    The SORCA executive was shocked when informed of the plans to log the
    Plunge. SORCA has had always maintained strong working relationship with
    Forestry and other land managers, both public and private. Members have met
    with Forestry as recently as late January 2005 to discuss upcoming logging
    plans in the area. The Plunge itself was built in coordination and partially
    funded by the Ministry of Forests.

    The SORCA executive has met with Lands and Water BC (the Provincial
    Government agency that owns the land) in the summer of 2004 to discuss and
    demonstrate the importance of the backcountry in and around Squamish, as a
    recreational resource. SORCA was informed that "this area was very unlikely
    to see any logging in the future." We are shocked to find out that a trail
    as important as the Plunge could be on the block without serious
    consultation with SORCA.

    Recently SORCA executive members contacted the local Squamish Forestry
    Office and were informed that the decision to establish cut blocks in and
    around the Plunge, was not made locally in Squamish, but rather at the head
    office in Chilliwack. The Chilliwack Office was subsequently contacted by
    members of the SORCA executive to voice their objection to the proposed
    logging. The executive made suggestions that areas further into the
    backcountry be considered for logging operations. The Chilliwack office
    responded that "decent timber is so rare in this area now that, to meet
    their quota, they had to cut this block even though it is a relatively small
    cut block."

    The SORCA executive was left out of early meetings among the decision-makers
    (ie Ministry of Forrests and Lands and Waters BC). After some pressure we
    were finally invited to the table, and will be attending upcoming meetings
    to further discuss this issue.


    SORCA research suggests that the proposed cut has a value of approximately
    $2 million. Once this block is cut, it can’t be harvested for another 50
    years, translating into an annual return of approximately $40,000.

    SORCA has never formally calculated the economic impact of an individual
    trail, however, it estimates that as Squamish’ signature trail, the Plunge
    could easily generate over a million dollars a year to the Squamish economy.
    The Plunge is a key component of the Test of Metal Race which attracts
    thousands of riders and other recreationalists from all over world on a year
    round basis.

    The economics of pushing the logging interests of BC Timber Sales simply
    does not equate to the economic benefit that this trail brings to the
    community of Squamish. Cyclists come form all over the world to use this and
    other trails in Squamish. They stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants,
    shop in Squamish stores. We feel the benefit of preserving this trail for
    the benefit of the recreational community far outweighs the economic payback
    of logging this trail.

    From SORCA’s perspective, the proposed cut will likely have little impact on
    Squamish’s economy. The best this cut will likely provide to Squamish is
    eight to ten jobs for a few months and possibly $500,000 ($10,000 on an
    annualized basis) of profit for a local contractor, if a local contractor is
    indeed chosen to complete the contract.

    Not Anti-Logging

    SORCA wants to clearly indicate that this is not an anti-logging campaign.
    We have always had a good working relationship with the forestry sector. We
    understand that people have to make a living, and many persons both
    recreationalists, and non-recreationalists make their living in the forestry

    In the past five years Squamish has lost several trails to logging. SORCA
    has made it a policy to work with Forestry and local contractors to
    re-establish trails in and around various cut blocks. We have also have gone
    out of our way to try to inform riders about the areas being logged, time
    frames associated to the work, and have informed recreationalists to keep
    out of worksites. This information has been passed on at various events and
    through the SORCA website.

    In the past SORCA has been involved as a key stakeholder, representing the
    key interests of the recreational community. SORCA has worked symbiotically
    with Forestry to ensure that the interests of both groups has been met, but
    with this latest proposal, to log the Plunge area, SORCA, was not involved
    in any decision making, or allowed to convey any feedback.

    Basis Mismanagement

    It is SORCA’s opinion that thousands of recreation users of today are being
    penalized by the mismanagement of our forests in the past. Are recreational
    users and the community of Squamish expected to pay the price for a decision
    that will profit only a handful of people and alter the landscape for a long

    Future Use of Crown Land

    Due to the importance of the Powerhouse Plunge to both mountain bikers,
    hikers and trail-runners, SORCA is mounting a campaign to stop this proposed
    cut. We are calling this campaign "Save the Plunge" (STP) and are urging all
    recreationalists to contact the various parties involved including: Mr.
    Jerry Kennah at the BC Timber Sales Office in Chilliwack, Mr.Michael de
    Jong, current Minister for Forests, Ms. Diane Reed, Manager of the Squamish
    Forest District Office, and please c.c.Mayor Ian Sutherland of the District
    of Squamish. The contacts for these individuals are listed below. Please
    refer to www.sorca.ca, the official SORCA website, for updated information.

    SORCA has plans to contact all of the respective parties involved, calling
    for a moratorium on logging, disposition of Crown Land, or other
    developments in the Squamish area on Crown Land where recreation assets like
    the Plunge are located. This moratorium would remain until a strategic
    master land use plan can be developed to effectively integrate the many
    recreation uses in the area where current and future logging activities may

    SORCA has recently engaged Cascade Environmental to develop a master land
    use plan for mountain biking in the Squamish area. According to SORCA
    President Cliff Miller, "the time has to come for the Province to truly
    recognize that the backcountry around Squamish is highly valuable as
    recreation land. This is already or will soon become the most heavily
    recreated area in BC given its close proximity to Vancouver and Whistler."

    SORCA believes certain areas (not all) are more valuable for public
    recreation than logging or other development. We also believe in Squamish’s
    branding as the "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada", and we reside in a
    Province that is working very hard to promote itself as a tourist
    destination. The time has come for the "powers to be" to develop a land use
    strategy for the backcountry that ensures the best long-term return to the
    taxpayers of the BC, not just a quick buck to make the short-term balance
    sheet look good.

    Plan of Action

    SORCA has contacted the respected parties in order to be part of the current
    discussions on the future of the Plunge. We have begun a letter writing
    campaign to those parties involved to express our concerns.

    We are also organizing the STP (Save the Plunge) Mountainbike Race on
    Saturday, May 7 starting at 11 am. The race will coincide with the opening
    Squamish’s new Adventure Centre, which will attended by various government
    officials, including Premiere Gordon Campbell. Come out and ride some of
    Squamish’s trails, in particular the Powerhouse Plunge. Logon to
    www.sorca.ca for further information.

    We ask that you support us in our efforts to save this resource by
    forwarding your concerns about logging the Powerhouse Plunge and other great
    Squamish trails to:

    Honourable Michael de Jong,
    Minister of Forests
    Room 128
    Parliament Buildings

    Phone: 250 387-6240
    Fax: 250 387-1040
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Mr. Jerry Kennah
    BC Timber Sales
    Timber Sales Manager
    46360 Airport Road
    Chilliwack BC

    Phone:604 702-5727
    Fax: 604 702-5711
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Ms.Diane Reed,
    Squamish Forest District Manager
    Suite 101
    42000 Loggers Lane
    Squamish, BC

    Phone: 604 898-2100
    Fax: 604 898-2191
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Mayor Ian Sutherland,
    District of Squamish
    Box 310,
    Squamish, BC V0N 3G0

    Phone: 1-877-892-5217
    Fax: (604) 892-1083
    E-mail: [email protected]

  6. #6
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    Mar 2004
    Just received this by e-mail so I thought I should share it.
    Read into what you want.... ....but it is not over yet!!!

    Not sure everyone has seen this:

    Thank you for your comments regarding the Powerhouse Plunge bike trail near
    Squamish and the proposed forest harvesting in the area. I would like to
    take this opportunity to update you on this issue on behalf of the Ministry
    of Forests.
    First, it should be noted that the area in question is provincial forest and
    BC Timber Sales (BCTS), a division of the Ministry of Forests, has the
    authority to carry out planning and harvesting in the area. BCTS has
    recently submitted a plan to harvest a 44-hectare block of second growth
    timber in this area.
    BCTS staff have had two meetings with the Squamish Off Road Cycling
    Association (SORCA), the most recent being Friday, April 29, 2005.
    At the last meeting, BCTS agreed not to pursue their plan approval until a
    couple of ongoing studies on the area can be completed. One study is on the
    hydrology of the area, while the other deals with mapping existing and
    potential trails.
    The reports are expected by early July and at that time BCTS will review the
    matter further. BCTS is committed to working with user groups in an attempt
    to integrate various resource uses.
    If the plan was approved, please note that at this time this is only a
    proposal in a comprehensive planning process. I would like to share with
    you our initial thoughts around the protective measures for the bike trail.
    As the trail enters the proposed cutting area from the west side the first
    400 metres would have a buffer on both sides. The next 325 metres is the
    area known as "the plunge". It would be surrounded by an intact reserve
    patch where no harvesting would occur. The next 130-metre stretch would
    have a buffer on both sides. Then there would be a road crossing, which
    would be kept to a minimum (approximately 6 metres) followed by another 500
    metres of buffered trail. The buffer areas will be a strip of forest along
    both sides of the trail. At this point, we are proposing a 10-metre width
    where no cutting would occur, with a further 20-metre width where
    approximately 60 percent of the trees would remain standing. These widths
    are open to further discussion but we think this is a reasonable step to
    maintain the integrity of the trail.
    We also propose that once a final plan is developed that reflects reasonable
    protection measures for the trail, we would work with SORCA to ensure the
    timing of harvesting is scheduled around major events to minimize noise,
    traffic and safety conflicts. Our hope is to find a balanced solution.
    Again, thank you for bringing your concerns forward.
    Yours truly,
    G. L. (Jerry) Kennah, R.P.F., Timber Sales Manager
    Chinook Business Area
    pc: The Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia

    The Honourable Michael de Jong, Minister of Forests
    Grant Parnell, Director, Operations, BC Timber Sales Headquarters

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