SOMEONE has been cutting down trees for apparently no reason on city and private property along the Skeena River adjacent to Timber Mart on Hwy16 and just north of the bridge crossing the river there, leaving a swath of fallen timber in what was a pretty parkland.
And it’s come to the attention of the city’s bylaw officer who can issue fines and the police who can recommend charges if the illegal tree cutter is caught.
Terrace bylaw officer Dwayne Sheppard said the illegal cutting has been going on since August 2016.
“It is suspected the person has fallen more than 100 trees in the area,” said Sheppard.
“This person is aware they are not permitted in the area so it has been difficult to capture the person in the act.”
People at the Timber Mart have heard a chainsaw and called Sheppard but often the person is in and out quickly so by the time he gets there, the culprit is gone.
“The illegal faller usually spends less than an hour in the area and moves on,” said Sheppard.
Besides being visible from the highway, the area does have a trail where people walk, including Sheppard who used to walk his dog there.
Some of the trees have been felled across the trail which is a hazard to people walking in the area, added Sheppard.
“The area where these trees are being cut is zoned park and recreation by the City of Terrace, and needs to be protected for future land use to be enjoyed by all Terrace citizens,” said Sheppard.
“These trees are also located in a riparian zone, an area adjacent to waterways and streams, which are essential for healthy fish habitat, bank stability and species diversity.
“Since these trees are cut in a riparian area zone, I have contacted the Ministry of Environment regarding this illegal cutting activity.”
One tree that’s about 35-40 years old was cut down along the riverbank and is now laying down the embankment with its top end facing the river and the stump near the top of the riverbank.
A few of the trees may have been taken as firewood but most are just laying on the ground where they were cut down.
“There doesn’t seem to be any reason for the cutting activity other than the destruction of the tree itself,” said Sheppard.
The illegal cutter began on land belonging to Progressive Ventures Construction and then moved onto city land, said Sheppard.
Progressive Ventures Construction owner Darcy McKeown said the city called him about the illegal cutting around Christmas last year.
“I contacted the RCMP, who knew it was happening, to make sure they knew I wasn’t actually part of it and gave the RCMP permission to go and basically remove the tree cutter’s equipment from the site,” said McKeown.
When contacted recently, he was surprised and angry that it was still happening.
Terrace RCMP Const. Angela Rabut said the person could face a criminal charge of mischief for his illegal activity.
“We have received reports of illegal cutting of trees on private and city owned property,” said Rabut.
“We encourage the public to call us if they see or hear anything in the area.”
The illegal cutter also isn’t cutting the trees down safely, putting himself at risk, said Sheppard, who used to be a faller.
A faller would cut a notch into the side of the tree that’s in the direction that he wants the tree to fall and then cut from the other side until it starts falling, but this person just cuts straight across the trunk so the tree could fall on him.
“We are hoping we can receive tips from the public to help capture the person doing this illegal cutting,” said Sheppard.