Fentie fudges forest facts
Open letter to Premier Dennis Fentie,
Much to my surprise, I learned that your government issued a request for proposals to the forest industry offering a million cubic metres of timber in the Haines Junction region.
I am appalled at this incredibly large volume of timber being offered to the industry without having given the public the opportunity to read, edit and agree to any draft of the so-called integrated landscape plan, which really is a high-level forest management plan.
Your government did not even have the courtesy to provide the public access to the final plan before advertising the timber to the industry.
The lack of meaningful public consultation in this case again demonstrates that your government has no intention of conducting forestry planning in an open and transparent manner.
Your government’s sole interest is to please the forest industry and their supporters, and to heck with everyone else.
Your government’s agenda to push logging as the economic force for the Haines Junction area is driven by your government’s fear-mongering propaganda.
Your government’s slogan that the spruce bark beetle infestation represents an extreme ecosystem event of major social, economic and environmental significance is completely overstated and only serves the purpose of lulling the public into believing that our forests need to be cut down in order to save the communities.
The beetle infestation is not an ecological disaster.
Like wildfires, it is part of the naturally occurring rejuvenation process of the boreal forest.
Whether the forest contains dead or living trees, the boreal forest in which we live is designed to burn and, therefore, has always posed a certain level of risk to communities.
To reduce the risk of wildfires, I very much support Firesmart programs that carefully remove dead wood within and around the communities using selective, low-impact cutting methods.
The proposed logging of a million cubic metres of dead and living trees goes far beyond the scope of a Firesmart program and, by in large, would present a minimal fire risk reduction to the community of Haines Junction which has an overall fire-risk ranking of moderate.
The boreal forest in the Haines Junction area is already stressed by climate change.
Forest growth is slow at the best of times. A recent survey along the Haines Road shows that the average age of the white spruce ranges between 200 and 270 years.
The cutting of a large volume of timber will further deteriorate the already weak condition of the forest.
Living, white spruce trees are essential for the forest’s regeneration. These green trees will be the primary target of the forest industry, not the low-value dead trees.
We will not only lose the remaining green trees in the cut blocks, but, since heavy logging machinery will be employed, we will also lose a large proportion of smaller new trees which have grown back since the infestation began about 10 years ago.
Large-scale forestry, as proposed by your government, is not only ecologically unsustainable, but it will also very likely have a negative impact on other economic sectors, such as wilderness eco-tourism.
It is absolutely ridiculous for government officials to say that Yukoners and tourists would prefer to look at cut blocks rather than a beetle-infested forest.
I disagree with your government’s announcement to the forest industry that “Both the original strategic planning process and the integrated landscape plan processes featured rigorous consultation over several years and have yielded a reliable and substantial consent to a plan to manage forests in the traditional territory.”
There is likely substantial consent to the integrated landscape plan within your government.
However, there is absolutely no consent from the residents of the Haines Junction area to this document.
How can there be?
Your government made its sales pitch to the industry before this plan was even made available to the public.
The local debate over the best land-use of our region is still unresolved and ongoing in the absence of a true integrated land-use plan.
Fentie, I am asking you to not further promote our timber resource to the forest industry outside of the territory.
Your government already established an interim five-year wood supply for the local industry.
This period provides a window of opportunity to create a true regional integrated land-use plan that is not solely driven by forestry interests but equally and fairly considers all economic sectors, all social values and all ecological values.
Stand against homophobia
May 17th is the National Day Against Homophobia, which was founded by Montreal’s Foundation Emergence in 2003 and is now international.
Although we recognize that there has been growth in the area of acceptance of the homosexual and bisexual community, we want more than tolerance; we want support and understanding.
We want to eradicate homophobia, in all forms, including hidden homophobia.
Hidden homophobia often takes a subtle tone, in jokes, slurs or heterosexist (based on the idea that the majority sets the norm) language and behaviour.
We also know that there are still reasons to fight for these human rights and end to discrimination.
The importance in ending homophobia is apparent, as the federal Conservatives bring same sex-marriage back into question in the House of Commons and forward for yet another vote.
Pride Days as well as the National Day Against Homophobia are about celebrating our accomplishments in social change related to sexual orientation, having our rights recognized and drawing awareness to the issues, our community faces everyday.
This year’s theme for the National Day Against Homophobia is ending homophobia in the workplace.
We need to hold our workplaces accountable in providing homophobia-free environments.
Homophobia is a negative attitude or feeling, discomfort or aversion towards homosexuality.
It is also a rejection of people who are considered to be homosexual and everything associated with them, for example, gender non-conformity.
Homophobia generally tends to be becoming more subtle and hidden.
Another form of homophobia is condoned homophobia, which is defined as silence or lack of response to acts of homophobic language or behaviour.
We urge you to speak up against homophobia and to open your mind and educate those around you.
It is everyone’s responsibility to challenge and eliminate this homophobic behaviour by recognizing it and speaking against it.
Please come join us on May 17th and recognize the National Day Against Homophobia, assist us in ending this form of discrimination in our workplaces, communities and our world.
We would also like to invite you on May 17th at noon to a rallying event, in recognition of fourth edition of the National Day Against Homophobia.
This rally will take place in front of the Elijah Smith Building.
There will be a couple guest speakers to bring recognition and awareness to this day.
You may also see posters around Whitehorse leading up to May 17th.
We would also like to take this opportunity to invite gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and ally’s, to join our Pride Committee and help us to work for eradication of homophobia and transphobia year round, contact us through the PSAC office at 667-2331.
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Regional Whitehorse Pride Committee