“It looks like they are stripping every off the top of the mountain - bare,” says Heather Matthews, who has lived in the valley her whole life. “How long will it take to replace that - it wont come back again in my life time and not my childrens’ life time. It’s going to take a long time for it to come back to look it the way it has always looked.”
Matthews says the bald spot is on the western slopes directly across from Ski Wentworth.
“It is going to create a whole different look to our Wentworth Valley,” she says. “Everybody talks about how beautiful it is in the fall of the year. We have the Fall Festival of Colours and people come from all over to ride the chairlift and view the natural colours of the leaves.
- Ski Wentworth Fall Festival of Colours a huge success, Oct. 2013 -
Residents estimate the clearcut at about 400 or 500 acres and Matthews worries that the loggers will continue clearing the ridge all the way to Folly Lake.
Jordan Sprague is the president of Wentworth Community Development Council - the non-profit community group held a public meeting this past Monday June 12 to discuss the growing bald patch.
“Not one person at the meeting was for it,” said Sprague.
Sprague says the residents at the meeting spoke about round the clock noise from machinery, erosion and run off and impacts on the area’s tourism.
“People view industrial clear cutting as a major problem,” says Sprague. “They say their valley is being demolished. The great big bald spot keeps growing, every day it gets bigger and bigger.”
Sprague says the council has been working on a tourism plan to promote a large wilderness protection area.
“When you drive into the valley, on both sides are these big beautiful mountains, one of them is the highest peak in the mainland - we have been working on a tourism plan for the area to encourage people to use our trails for hiking, biking, skiing, we want people to explore the valley and its wilderness - clearcutting will ruin the nature of it.”
Sprague says the development council wants to let people what is happening and gather more input from residents.
“The more people we hear from, the better the longterm course of action we can take,” he said.
Conor Scallion is another lifelong resident of Wentworth Valley. He has has two young children and worries the forest will be all gone before they can spend much time in it.
“I’m sick and tired of seeing huge sections of forest being cut,” he said. “I see it everyday in the woods. I used to be able to go cross-country skiing for a long ways, 15 or 25 k and not see a clearcut but now half of what I used to ski has been clear cut - it’s a massive change and its disturbing.”
Scallion says the quick profit for the large forestry companies does not compare to the money that could be made for the community with more sustainable longterm management.
“Forests is one of the very few things, if you stop cutting and walk away from it, when they came back in 50 years, the forest would actually be worth more,” said Scallion. “They’ve been cutting mature sugar maple up there - you shouldn’t be allowed to do that. If you had a sugar camp on that land you could employ three to five people for six months of the year for ever and ever. Maple syrup is much more valueable than wood chips.”
Kathy Cloutier, communications director at Northern Pulp confirmed the clear cut is land owned by Northern Pulp.
She also confirmed that the contractors were working between 20 and 24 hours a day, five days a week.
She said staff cruised the land before the harvest to collect information such as species, maturity, quality, advanced regeneration and site conditions before deciding to clear cut it.