Annapolis County clearcut frustrates neighbours

Some residents of Torbrook, Annapolis County are angry about the lack of notice they received about a clearcut happening in their area and the amount of clear cutting in general.

Natural Resources minister defends his department's public consultation process despite criticism

About 21 hectares of Crown land in Torbrook, Annapolis County, is being clear cut. A similar amount in the same area will be partially cut. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

Shayne Boliver first got the news when the trucks came rumbling down her road in the Annapolis Valley.

The Torbrook resident is angry that, for almost a month, clear cutting has been happening on 21 hectares of Crown land behind her house — without any notice to her or neighbouring properties.

"They pretty much told us, 'Can you move your vehicles? We're coming in.'"

'It didn't have to be clear cut'

But Boliver isn't just an angry neighbour. She's also a recent graduate of the Nova Scotia Community College's natural resources environmental technology program. 

Boliver, who is trained to do site assessment, data collection and create woodlot management plans, said she dislikes the amount of clear cutting happening across the province.

"I've lived here for 11 years and I've walked back there and I've seen the forest," she said of the uneven stand that includes spruce, oak and maple.

"I feel like it didn't have to be clear cut. They could have managed this a lot better ... They're pretty much going in there and they're just cutting everything down."

Ron Gee (left) and Shayne Boliver walk through Crown land in Torbrook, Annapolis County, where clear cutting is taking place. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

Ron Gee, who lives nearby, is also frustrated by the cut and the amount of clear cutting in general.

"If they were going to use it for farmland clearing that would be fine, but it just sits there for years and slowly grows up in weeds."

Gee is an avid mountain biker who spends a lot of time riding in the woods. He said he's seeing more and more clearcuts through the Annapolis Valley that don't seem to be leaving anything for future growth. He's also concerned about what appears to be Quebec crews harvesting Nova Scotia Crown land.

Process determines cut type

The manager of WestFor Management Inc., the consortium of mills with a timber licence for the western Crown lands, said staff with the Natural Resources Department determine what type of harvest is appropriate for each block based on a variety of assessments.

Marcus Zwicker said the two contractors doing the clearcut, and a selective cut of about the same size in the same area, are from Quebec and New Brunswick, but have worked in Nova Scotia for more than 10 years. He also said more than half of their crews are local operators.

Zwicker said 95 per cent of contractors working in the province are based in Nova Scotia.

As for wood coming from the Torbrook block, Zwicker said it will go to one of six mills, depending on the species.

Minister stands by consultation plan

In August, the Liberal government announced it would not abide by a previous plan to reduce the amount of clear cutting in the province by 50 per cent.

Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines said his department does public consultation through its harvest plans map viewer, an online tool that shows proposed cuts. People are able to comment for 20 days once a block is posted.

Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines said he is pleased with the consultation process his department uses about potential harvests on Crown land. (CBC)

There is, however, a reverse onus to know when that is happening. People must either check the website each day, or they can register to received a notification if a new block is posted. Hines said the department's public consultation process is working.

"We're all about public consultation in everything that we do," he said. "We have nothing to hide. We're not trying to conceal what we're doing."

Boliver, who has experience with map design, has a different view. She said the maps are hard to understand.

"I would never make a map that way," she said. "That just confuses the public."

About the Author

Michael Gorman

Reporter

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia who covers Province House, rural communities, and everything in between. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca