Elkford Devastation

Twenty-five years ago I bought my condo in Elkford, “the Wilderness Capital of BC”, as a mountain getaway for recreation purposes. What happened? Over the years this pristine valley has suffered huge swaths of “clear cutting” forest harvest that definitely has changed this Wilderness Capital!  Each winter residents and visitors are amazed at yet another clear cut area.

The most recent cut just east of Elkford townsite is one of the ugliest.  Climbing the roadway to Line Creek and Fording River Coal mine sites, the landscape takes on the appearance of mass destruction. Trees and shrubs have been mowed down, leaving huge piles of unwanted tree trunks that look like massive graves! Oh, if Emily Carr could comment on this mess?  The “Elkford Viewpoint” on Fording Road looks more like a World War I battleground.  Gone are the wildflowers: arnica, violets, fireweed, miner's lantern as well as raspberries, saskatoons and cow's parsnip.  Gone is the habitat for moose, elk, red squirrel, bear and deer. Gone are the stately lodgepole pine. 

Continuing up this road, we come to the Josephine Falls, Lily/Lost Lake hiking trails...wow, what happened to our summer/winter paradise?  With this winter's clear cut, trails were wiped out and I got lost trying to find my way to Josephine Falls in February.  On the May long weekend, we drove down a forestry road searching for the trails and a solo hiker/new Elkford resident approached us, totally disorientated and asked for directions back to town!

This recreational area and Josephine Falls Trail was Elkford's most visited site.  No more – now the views are an appalling mess of debris! Permanent residents of Elkford must be very upset.  How is it possible the BC forestry industry was allowed to destroy this beautiful recreation area?  I understand that jobs and income are important but surely there must be a new better way to harvest this resource?  I have traveled to many countries where the forest industry is important and selective logging is common practice. No where did I see such ruthless mass destruction.  Isn't it time to change Canada's old clear cutting techniques to better preserve this natural resource. 

Recreation is very necessary in our modern stressful world.  My wife and I, along with many friends/fellow residents, have enjoyed hiking, snowshoeing, X-country skiing, downhill skiing, quading and snowmobiling in the Elkford area.  These activities will be curtailed for the next 10 years due the recent clear cutting.  Too bad, that is a long time to wait.  Recently,  friends sold their condo because it was a heartbreak to see the devastation...what can be done before there are more?  

Richard Smith,
Deerbourne Condo Owner, Elkford
Email: richlyn1@telus.net