Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Coming Destruction of the Sooke Potholes

TimberWest Set to Destroy the Sooke Potholes
Ingmar Lee
April 6th, 2005

TimberWest is proceeding with its brutal logging devastation scheme directly opposite the new TLC/CRD Sooke Potholes Park.

The brand new Sooke Potholes Park was announced yesterday. Tragically, TimberWest controls the ancient forest directly opposite the new park, just across the Sooke River, and they are now gearing up to destroy it.

TimberWest is widely recognized and despised as a ruthless destroyer of wilderness on Vancouver Island. TimberWest proudly exports 1,000,000 cubic metres of raw-logs off our island every year, and is directly implicated in the extinction of the Vancouver Island marmot. TimberWest is the amongst the most voracious destroyers of rare ancient fir forest, second only to Weyerhaeuser, and is a major financier of Gordon Campbell and the 'BC Liberals.'

Fearing a heightened public interest in the Sooke Potholes as a result of the park announcement, the giant corporation has sneaked in there and secretly laid out the entire road network in preparation for logging. This road system has not been built for the sole purpose of clearing off 100 acres of endangered ancient fir forest, but has clearly been designed and engineered for residential subdivision. The TimberWest falling boundary extends to within 30 ft of the Sooke River, directly adjacent to the most magnificent and beloved stretch of Potholes.

The TimberWest vision for the Sooke Potholes, directly opposite the new park:

1) clear off the ancient forest

2) subdivide as in "Bear Mountain 2."

I first discovered the flagged-in falling-boundary while swimming at the Potholes about 5 years ago. A friend and I followed the boundary and took GPS fixes going around and made the map. Since then, I have taken hundreds of people through that forest on 'Barefoot Hikes' with permission from Hereditary Chief Frank Planes, and with the late elected Chief Andy Planes, of the T'Sou'ke First Nation.

Over the years I repeatedly pleaded with the Nature Conservancy here in Victoria to exert their influence on TimberWest to spare the forest. At first the Nature Conservancy, who has been retained by TimberWest to identify ecologically significant areas of their 'private land' holdings, told me that they were not interested in the Potholes.

With increasing pressure, Jan Garnett, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy and TimberWest's #1 environmental 'PR-flak,' finally changed her tune and assured me that the Nature Conservancy had recognized the importance of this remnant of rare primeval fir forest and and had recommended it for protection. As the last 'refugia-tuft' remnant in the Sooke River valley, it has significant ecological and recreational value . If TimberWest is able to proceed with its plans, the Nature Conservancy, with its close collusive, collaboration with TimberWest will share resposibility for the destruction of the World Famous Potholes.

The Potholes are a beloved destination for people on south-island, and are considered sacred by elders of the T'Sou'ke First Nation. It will be a tragedy of the first order if this magnificent forest, in plain view of the new Potholes Park, is slashed down for subdivision. For all lovers of the Sooke Potholes, there is still time to protect this forest, but it's running out quickly.

Sincerely, Ingmar Lee

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