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  • John Horgan's surprising plan to save the Spotted Owl

    David Broadland

    BC Premier John Horgan has an inflated view of what his government has done to save old-growth forests.


    IN AN APRIL 7 INTERVIEW with CBC Victoria’s Gregor Craigie, Premier John Horgan claimed his government has already responded to the Gorley-Merkel report on old-growth forests in BC. Horgan claimed that logging has been deferred on “hundreds of thousand of hectares” of old growth. Forest scientist Karen Price, one of the co-authors of BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity, has pointed out on this website that Horgan’s deferrals apply to only 3800 hectares of high productivity old growth. FOCUS has shown that a large portion of the biggest deferral included about 100,000 hectares of already protected Strathcona Park. Other deferrals are mainly rock and ice or second-growth forest.

    Horgan’s grasp of forest-related issues was further clarified by his claim to Craigie that “just in the Lower Mainland, 500 million hectares of land has been set aside just to protect the Spotted Owl.” What’s wrong with that? Watch the 1-minute video below.

    The problem for British Columbians is that Horgan seems clueless about the environmental damage being created by the forest industry in BC, and even more unaware about how his government is responding to that. Or maybe both his claims about the logging deferrals and the area protected for Spotted Owls were a slip of the tongue, or a joke.

    Either way, Craigie didn’t fact-check the premier on either matter. Is British Columbia’s mainstream media unintentionally enabling the unfolding ecological catastrophe in BC forests?

    If you have heard something about BC’s forest industry in the media that you think is doubtful, including what you read on this website, please let us know in the comments section below and we’ll fact-check that piece of information.

    Thanks to Dave Cuddy for drawing to our attention John Horgan’s surprising plan to save the Northern Spotted Owl.



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    John Horgan ran both his election campaigns without any meaningful new policy for forestry.  Anything promised has not been delivered. He apparently doesn't know anything about forestry and doesn't listen to anyone who does.  His advice, if he seeks it, comes from a cabal of unelected party insiders, the forest industry, and a forests ministry -- the mindustry -- wholly captured by the industry. 

    Horgan after Adrian Dix took the wind out of the sails of a progressive BC NDP just as Glen Clark did after Mike Harcourt.  What makes matters worse is that Horgan and his insiders implicitly champion the deregulated forestry policy that they inherited from the BC Liberals. 

    It is heartbreaking to know that we have a premier of the province who appears to be absolutely clueless about the three defining issues of our time -- water, biodiversity loss and climate change -- and about the combined, devastating roles played by the industry and forests ministry in making all three worse.  

    God help us. 

    Edited by Anthony Britneff
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    One of the saddest facts about the state of BC forests, whether its the percentage of old growth left or the inflated revenue generated is that Horgan and his accountants and the Forest Industrial complex - they all lie about the numbers, knowing full well that no one can actually prove them wrong. The have armies of lawyers, biometricians, accountants and log brokers who will give you numbers that are fabricated simply to support jobs. Rather than telling forest dependent communities that the gravy train might be coming to an end and OTHER career paths would be prudent, they avoid telling the hard facts to loggers and create misinformation,, year after year after year. Essentially lying to loggers, British Columbians and the media about the true state of our forests. Why? Because the Forest Industrial complex is a corporate machine who sought deregulation via Gordon Campbell and then gleefully exported logs and profits from the accelerated liquidation of our resources, biodiversity and reduced climate change resilience. Nothing has changed and we now have a premier who claims ignorance of the true facts guided by a ministry who's executive are paid over $100k a year to look the other way, to creatively massage numbers which in the end all justify the profits from logging to buy mills south of the boarder and ship raw logs to China. This isn't what is taught in forestry school, these are the things taught in board rooms . 

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    Is our Premier innumerate? That would explain why he appears to also accept the exaggerated claims made by the forest industrial complex on how much money logging contributes to the BC economy, another topic rigorously covered by this author. Premier Horgan's office is heavily lobbied by COFI. If he just admitted that his office is not interested in protecting at-risk old growth in BC that would at least be honest of him. Instead, he's lying about what his government has done. He is a liar and a coward.

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    Maths was never my forte but even I recognize that 500 MILLION hectares in the Lower Mainland do not exist and therefore have not been set aside for the two (or three spotted owls) that have survived the onslaught on their habitat. Horgan needs to sit down with some of the credible ENGOs as well as the forest defenders from Fairy Creek and hear the facts as well as be taken to some of the old growth forests on the chopping block. Shocking that the journalist failed to fact check the 500 Million hecatres. 

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    We have so much to rediscover and learn from the past.

    Such as 1994 Management Options for the Northern Spotted Owl in BC:  



    And 1999, 2000/01, & 2015 Implementing Retention Harvesting Silviculture Systems in the Chilliwack Forest District:  


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    I am a forester and a long-time NDP supporter. I've had enough! If you can't get your facts straight, you are not competent to govern. This government is now cementing the toxic natural resource paradigm of Gordon Campbell, while pretending to do differently. The Gorley/Merkel report is an excellent middle ground, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People's Act is a critical step forward. The most recent Provincial Budget indicates that most of these promises are entirely hollow.

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