Citizens group gears up for fight against Port Blandford wood cutting proposal

A group of Port Blandford residents are rallying against plans to allow wood harvesting near their community — and have forced a response from the provincial government.

Meeting between citizens, government Tuesday night

One of the proposed cutting areas is Southwest Valley, home to wildlife like this visitor. (Submitted by Steve Hann)

A newly formed citizens group in Port Blandford is gearing up to fight government plans to allow commercial wood harvesting near the community.

If a woodpecker flew over it, he'd have to pack a lunch.- Garfield White

The group, which came together last week, has forced a meeting Tuesday with town and provincial government officials to discuss the plans, which opponents say will devastate the countryside.

The proposal is that 158,000 cubic metres of wood be harvested from four distinct areas surrounding Port Blandford, including a cabin area and an area near a salmon river.

About eight kilometres of road will need to be built, according to the plan documents, and more road reconstruction will be needed.

"If a woodpecker flew over it, he'd have to pack a lunch," said Garfield White, a member of the citizen's group.

"If he loved the area, he'd have to fly upside down where he wouldn't have to look at it. It's going to devastate the country in here."

Some of the forested area behind Port Blandford has already been cleared to make way for a power line. A citizens group is worried about the impact of more cutting. (Sandra Greening/Facebook)

White says residents of Port Blandford have a number of concerns. They are worried about Pine Marten habitat and a salmon river, and feel there was a lack of consultation with the community.  

"I'm no great big fancy feller, or nothing," he said. "But I'd say they put this through quiet because they know what the people here in Port Blandford are like, cause they fight for their rights."

He also fears the woodcutting will have a negative impact on the town's tourism industry.

Meeting Tuesday

Government officials have agreed to attend a meeting Tuesday night in the community. MHA Colin Hollway has told the group the he hopes compromises can be found.

The Port Blandford town council also put out a statement in support.

"The town has always advocated that no clearcutting take place between the waters of Clode Sound and the ridge lines surrounding the community," the statement said. 

White said the meeting will be used, in part, to gauge the reaction of the wider Port Blandford community about the cutting proposal, which is part of the province's Sustainable Forest Management Plan.

He said he wants to stop the cutting, delay it — or at least get answers.

"Most of the community, we're outdoor people here, and that's where we go. We fish, we hunt, we go in for boil-ups. It's where we go, where we live."

With files from the Central Morning Show