December 7, 2015

Outrage at illegal tree cutting on Eagle River Nature Trails

Outrage at illegal tree cutting on Eagle River Nature Trails

News Release
December 07, 2015 

Outrage at illegal tree cutting on Eagle River Nature Trails 

The Shuswap, British Columbia – Illegal cutting of mature hemlock and fir trees from local BC Parks has officials and community leadership concerned. On the eve of the historic signing of the Shuswap Regional Trails Strategy others in the Shuswap had a very different intent last week when they drove a truck onto pedestrian trails in the Eagle River Nature Reserve managed by BC Parks and downed mature hemlock and fir trees, presumably as fire wood. Local community leadership is outraged. 

BC Parks officials have been notified confirming unauthorized removal of trees is an offense under the Park Act. Under current provincial legislation, illegal damage to critical habitat and protected areas are punishable with fines of up to $1,000,000 and jail time up to a year. Individuals considering cutting firewood can legally do so by first contacting the Provincial Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 

"It's just so unacceptable," said Lori Schneider Wood, who oversees the Shuswap Trail Alliance stewardship program. "Many of us have invested long hours and funds to ensure natural spaces like the Eagle River Nature reserve remain very special places for people to experience. There is absolutely zero tolerance for this kind of destruction. Every time one person does something selfish like this it adds to the cumulative destruction of our parks and natural spaces. I can't even start to suggest the long-term cost for the ecology, recreation, and tourism." 

Evidence showed truck tracks driven into the nature reserve along dedicated foot trails and two mature trees fallen and bucked, presumably for fire wood. "There was probably about $1000 of fire wood there," said local trail steward, Derrick Kucheran. Derrick runs Cedars Campground, which like many tourism businesses in the Malakwa area realize direct benefits from the attraction natural areas like those at Eagle River provide. 

BC Parks and Shuswap Trail Alliance leadership have issued a region wide call for increased vigilance by residents, trail users, and stewards. "If you see any activity that seems unusual, report it," says Schneider Wood, "especially tree cutting by unauthorized personnel within protected parks." BC Parks officials recommend taking a cell phone photograph and sending it in with as much detail as you can, including license plate numbers. 

Report concerns, questions, and suspicious activity to RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) 1-877-952-7277 (1-877-952-RAPP), as well as sending a note to the Shuswap Trail Report at trailreport@shuswaptrails.com. "We monitor all trail report submissions and send them on to the appropriate authorities," says Schneider Wood with the Shuswap Trail Alliance, "and we can also mobilize local stewards and community leadership to assist." Alternatively, individuals wanting to remain anonymous when making a report can use the Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-800-222-8477 (visit: www.kamloopscrimestoppers.ca) 

To find out more about Shuswap trails and the Shuswap Trail Alliance stewardship program visit www.shuswaptrails.com. 

*** 

Photo: Illegal tree poachers drove a truck onto pedestrian trails in the Eagle River Nature Park managed by BC Parks and downed mature hemlock and fir trees, presumably as fire wood. Local community leadership is outraged. BC Parks and Shuswap Trail Alliance leadership have issued a region wide call for increased vigilance by residents, trail users, and stewards. Report suspicious activity to RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) 1-877-952-7277 (1-877-952-RAPP), as well as sending a note to the Shuswap Trail Report at trailreport@shuswaptrails.com. Alternatively, individuals wanting to remain anonymous when making a report can use the Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-800-222-8477 (visit: www.kamloopscrimestoppers.ca)

For further background on this release, please contact:

Phil McIntyre-Paul (Executive Director)
for the Shuswap Trail Alliance  
250-804-1964   
phil@shuswaptrails.com
www.shuswaptrails.com

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