MLA Scott Fraser and forest worker Craig Rowlinson examine stacks of decaying old growth timber in TFL 44. Timber lays rotting in tree farm licence 44 because of a dispute bwtween logging companies near Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island. Stephen Hume / PNG
South of Caycuse Camp — Enough prime old-growth timber to build about 2,350 average-sized homes, about 70,000 cubic metres, is rotting on Vancouver Island mountainsides because of a disagreement between two companies.
The trees were felled between 18 months and two years ago but left stacked beside logging roads or strewn across clearcuts where they are degraded by insects and weather.
They represent lost revenue for the province, for the company holding timber rights and for the contractor, lost wages for forest workers and lost business activity in small communities.
The timber rights belong to Western Forest Products, a forestry giant that succeeded Weyerhaeuser, itself a successor to MacMillan Bloedel. WFP contracts out the cutting and hauling of the trees, in this case to Island Pacific Logging. But the two companies have been locked in a lengthy dispute over the rates to be paid.