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Tear it all out!
7,739 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Powerhouse Plunge in peril
Mountain bike riders mobilizing

By John French

A key section of the Test of Metal mountain bike route is being ravaged by motorbikes, according to race organizers - and if the machines don't ruin the trail first, road builders might carve it up in a few years.
The Powerhouse Plunge is a challenging downhill technical section of bike course that is loved and cursed at the same time by Test of Metal competitors and regular users of the trail.

When Cliff Miller, president of the Squamish Off Road Cycling Association and Test of Metal race director, learned there was talk of logging the area near the Mamquam run-of-the-river power facility owned by TransCanada Power he shared his knowledge and there was an immediate reaction from the mountain biking community.

Miller met Tuesday (April 19) at the Forest Ministry office with a number of other stakeholders interested in the area.

He said one key player, BC Timber Sales, was not in attendance so no firm decisions were made except that there will be at least one more meeting in the future.

Miller's concerns are shared by the Lava Springs Water Company, which draws water for bottling from a well in the area.

Mayor Ian Sutherland isn't very worried about impacts the on the District of Squamish (DOS) drinking water wells in the area but he is concerned about the future of the Test of Metal and the private water company.

Mick Gottardi, the DOS director of community development, attended the meeting to speak on behalf of the DOS.

"We wanted to make sure everyone knew our concerns," Sutherland said. "We respect the right of other things to take place in that area but if we can find a way to accommodate everybody that is our preference. There is a solution to be had that is a positive one for everyone."

According to Sutherland, DOS staff will follow up by meeting with a representative from BC Timber Sales next Friday (April 29).

Andre Germain of the Ministry of Forests office in Squamish said BC Timber Sales is meeting with concerned groups to discuss issues of concern. He said the sides will try to address their differences and if they can't come to agreement the acting district forest manager will make a decision on what happens with the trees.

Miller said if the area is logged a new road will cross the trail two or three times.

"In essence you will be riding through a clear cut with road crossings," Miller said. "It would take away from the experience of being in the woods. The bigger question is between recreational and water extraction compared to forestry. What is the highest and best use for this land? For the $2 million that plot is going to generate once in 60 years versus the $8 million in mountain biking plus the value to the water company far exceeds the value of the timber."

Miller said those opposed to the proposed logging are supporters of industry and they don't want to be tagged as forest industry detractors.

A group called Save the Plunge (STP) formed this week to lobby for preservation of the trees.

Miller said STP stickers and t-shirts will be made and sold to help support the cause.

While efforts are under way to save the Plunge from logging motorized vehicles pose a more immediate threat to the trail. The heavy vehicles are damaging the trail and Miller is worried damage from motor bikes will jeopardize the race this June.

DOS Council decided this week to instruct staff to come up with a bylaw aimed at clamping down on motorbike riders who use trails closed to mechanized vehicles.

Sutherland said many complaints about motor bikes have been logged in recent weeks despite installation of new signs pointing out areas where motorized vehicles are restricted.

Tear it all out!
7,739 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Save the Powerhouse Plunge
Letters to the Editor

Let's start off by saying that I would not normally write to a newspaper but this issue has got to be brought out in the open.

For about eight years I was the trail maintenance director for the Squamish Off Road Cycling Association (SORCA). Part of that job was to act as liason between the local Forestry Office and SORCA. We have always had a good working relationship and have never complained about the impact that logging has had on our trails.
We understand that people have to make a living. As a matter of fact we have gone out of our way to try to inform riders about the areas being worked on, time frames for the work, posted keep out information on our web site etc.

So what has me ticked off enough to write to the editor? We have recently been informed that there are plans to log what is one of the most important trails in our system. The Powerhouse Plunge is not only one of the most unique trails in North America but it is a key component in the Test Of Metal.

So when I talked to Guy Freed at Forestry (in Chilliwack - yes, most of the decisions affecting our forest district are now made in Chilliwack) and asked why this one area could not be left alone, I was told that decent timber is so rare that to meet their quota they had to cut this block. Stunned silence on my part.

What we are being told is that because of the mismanagement of past forestry practices that we, the recreational users of our own land, should have to pay the price today. Sorry, but that doesn't wash with me.

We are going to fight for this cut to be stopped. Now I don't think that we are asking for too much here. After all it's probably not much bigger than the area of Stanley Park. Not so much in such a big province, eh?

So, let's take a look at the economics of this. The proposed cut has a value of approximately $2 million.

Maybe eight or 10 jobs for three months or so? The Test of Metal and mountain biking contribute several million to Squamish's economy annually.

Should we allow a myopic government policy and decisions made outside of Squamish to ruin one of the real bright spots in Squamish's future? I think not!

It's time to make some noise and have our voices heard. Give Guy Freed a call at (604) 702-5738, give Forestry Minister Michael de Jong a call at (250) 387-6240. Call the mayor. E-mail your MLA. In short, make it known that we're not going to take this one lying down.

In closing I would like to make it very clear that this is not an anti-logging issue.
This is an anti-stupidity issue and I hope that you will join us in our fight to Save the Plunge.

Brad Walkey


roots, rocks, rhythm
A little of this and that........nothing cheap! Try to buy local, which is really hard!
918 Posts
Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez :eek:
Now I am pi$$ed off.......logging, motercyles and now stupidity. (and not in that order.....)
I can't stand how near sighted company's/government's are for the love of money from a couple of tree's compared to the long term return from the mountain bike scene.

Public pressure and lobby the government is the answer, if they are willing to listen???

(I feel alittle better.......I need a ride.)

Tear it all out!
7,739 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Email from SORCA (Squamish Offroad Cycling Assocciation)




The Squamish Off Road Cycling Association (SORCA), has recently been
informed that there are plans to log one of North America's premier mountain
bike trails - the Power House Plunge.

Why is this trail so important?

The Powerhouse Plunge is one of the premiere trails in Squamish's mountain
bike network, and was recently rated by Men's Journal as the 3rd best in
North America. The legacy of Squamish's trail network is fulfilled through
the efforts of many local individuals who put in countless hours building
fun, scenic and sustainable trails like the Plunge.

Recreational runners, mountain bikers, and hikers alike enjoy the Plunge,
year round for its lush forest scenery. This would be gone if it were
logged. People do not come to Squamish to ride through cut blocks. It is the
fun, well maintained trails in a forest setting that brings people to
Squamish to ride, run, or hike.

The Plunge is also a key component in several mountain bike and trail
running races, including the Test Of Metal ( This is
one of North America's most popular mountain bike races - a race that
recently sold out all of its 800 spots in only five days. The Test of Metal
has become such an important part contributor to Squamish's economy and the
local recreational community that the District of Squamish is considering a
proposal to make the Test of Metal course, of which the Plunge is central, a
permanent fixture.

According to SORCA's research, the Ministry of Forest's plans for the area
include two road crossings which SORCA estimates will eliminate
approximately 25% of the trail. Also, only a 20m buffer will remain on each
side of a trail that provides a unique opportunity to experience being deep
in the forest.

There is a potential for the both short and long term impacts on the trail,
as the Plunge could be closed to logging due to activity for weeks and maybe
months on end. This would not include the time needed to repair trail damage
posed by logging activity. Depending on the time of year this could displace
numerous recreational users, and potentially have a serious financial impact
on Squamish, as these recreationalists head elsewhere.

One must not forget that the proposed cut areas are also directly above the
newest groundwater supply for the District of Squamish. This supply is set
to become the primary water source for the growing needs of Squamish. The
question remains on what impact such a cut will have on this supply?

Non Negotiable

The SORCA executive was shocked when informed of the plans to log the
Plunge. SORCA has had always maintained strong working relationship with
Forestry and other land managers, both public and private. Members have met
with Forestry as recently as late January 2005 to discuss upcoming logging
plans in the area. The Plunge itself was built in coordination and partially
funded by the Ministry of Forests.

The SORCA executive has met with Lands and Water BC (the Provincial
Government agency that owns the land) in the summer of 2004 to discuss and
demonstrate the importance of the backcountry in and around Squamish, as a
recreational resource. SORCA was informed that "this area was very unlikely
to see any logging in the future." We are shocked to find out that a trail
as important as the Plunge could be on the block without serious
consultation with SORCA.

Recently SORCA executive members contacted the local Squamish Forestry
Office and were informed that the decision to establish cut blocks in and
around the Plunge, was not made locally in Squamish, but rather at the head
office in Chilliwack. The Chilliwack Office was subsequently contacted by
members of the SORCA executive to voice their objection to the proposed
logging. The executive made suggestions that areas further into the
backcountry be considered for logging operations. The Chilliwack office
responded that "decent timber is so rare in this area now that, to meet
their quota, they had to cut this block even though it is a relatively small
cut block."

The SORCA executive was left out of early meetings among the decision-makers
(ie Ministry of Forrests and Lands and Waters BC). After some pressure we
were finally invited to the table, and will be attending upcoming meetings
to further discuss this issue.


SORCA research suggests that the proposed cut has a value of approximately
$2 million. Once this block is cut, it can't be harvested for another 50
years, translating into an annual return of approximately $40,000.

SORCA has never formally calculated the economic impact of an individual
trail, however, it estimates that as Squamish' signature trail, the Plunge
could easily generate over a million dollars a year to the Squamish economy.
The Plunge is a key component of the Test of Metal Race which attracts
thousands of riders and other recreationalists from all over world on a year
round basis.

The economics of pushing the logging interests of BC Timber Sales simply
does not equate to the economic benefit that this trail brings to the
community of Squamish. Cyclists come form all over the world to use this and
other trails in Squamish. They stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants,
shop in Squamish stores. We feel the benefit of preserving this trail for
the benefit of the recreational community far outweighs the economic payback
of logging this trail.

From SORCA's perspective, the proposed cut will likely have little impact on
Squamish's economy. The best this cut will likely provide to Squamish is
eight to ten jobs for a few months and possibly $500,000 ($10,000 on an
annualized basis) of profit for a local contractor, if a local contractor is
indeed chosen to complete the contract.

Not Anti-Logging

SORCA wants to clearly indicate that this is not an anti-logging campaign.
We have always had a good working relationship with the forestry sector. We
understand that people have to make a living, and many persons both
recreationalists, and non-recreationalists make their living in the forestry

In the past five years Squamish has lost several trails to logging. SORCA
has made it a policy to work with Forestry and local contractors to
re-establish trails in and around various cut blocks. We have also have gone
out of our way to try to inform riders about the areas being logged, time
frames associated to the work, and have informed recreationalists to keep
out of worksites. This information has been passed on at various events and
through the SORCA website.

In the past SORCA has been involved as a key stakeholder, representing the
key interests of the recreational community. SORCA has worked symbiotically
with Forestry to ensure that the interests of both groups has been met, but
with this latest proposal, to log the Plunge area, SORCA, was not involved
in any decision making, or allowed to convey any feedback.

Basis Mismanagement

It is SORCA's opinion that thousands of recreation users of today are being
penalized by the mismanagement of our forests in the past. Are recreational
users and the community of Squamish expected to pay the price for a decision
that will profit only a handful of people and alter the landscape for a long

Future Use of Crown Land

Due to the importance of the Powerhouse Plunge to both mountain bikers,
hikers and trail-runners, SORCA is mounting a campaign to stop this proposed
cut. We are calling this campaign "Save the Plunge" (STP) and are urging all
recreationalists to contact the various parties involved including: Mr.
Jerry Kennah at the BC Timber Sales Office in Chilliwack, Mr.Michael de
Jong, current Minister for Forests, Ms. Diane Reed, Manager of the Squamish
Forest District Office, and please c.c.Mayor Ian Sutherland of the District
of Squamish. The contacts for these individuals are listed below. Please
refer to, the official SORCA website, for updated information.

SORCA has plans to contact all of the respective parties involved, calling
for a moratorium on logging, disposition of Crown Land, or other
developments in the Squamish area on Crown Land where recreation assets like
the Plunge are located. This moratorium would remain until a strategic
master land use plan can be developed to effectively integrate the many
recreation uses in the area where current and future logging activities may

SORCA has recently engaged Cascade Environmental to develop a master land
use plan for mountain biking in the Squamish area. According to SORCA
President Cliff Miller, "the time has to come for the Province to truly
recognize that the backcountry around Squamish is highly valuable as
recreation land. This is already or will soon become the most heavily
recreated area in BC given its close proximity to Vancouver and Whistler."

SORCA believes certain areas (not all) are more valuable for public
recreation than logging or other development. We also believe in Squamish's
branding as the "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada", and we reside in a
Province that is working very hard to promote itself as a tourist
destination. The time has come for the "powers to be" to develop a land use
strategy for the backcountry that ensures the best long-term return to the
taxpayers of the BC, not just a quick buck to make the short-term balance
sheet look good.

Plan of Action

SORCA has contacted the respected parties in order to be part of the current
discussions on the future of the Plunge. We have begun a letter writing
campaign to those parties involved to express our concerns.

We are also organizing the STP (Save the Plunge) Mountainbike Race on
Saturday, May 7 starting at 11 am. The race will coincide with the opening
Squamish's new Adventure Centre, which will attended by various government
officials, including Premiere Gordon Campbell. Come out and ride some of
Squamish's trails, in particular the Powerhouse Plunge. Logon to for further information.

We ask that you support us in our efforts to save this resource by
forwarding your concerns about logging the Powerhouse Plunge and other great
Squamish trails to:

Honourable Michael de Jong,
Minister of Forests
Room 128
Parliament Buildings

Phone: 250 387-6240
Fax: 250 387-1040
E-mail: [email protected]

Mr. Jerry Kennah
BC Timber Sales
Timber Sales Manager
46360 Airport Road
Chilliwack BC

Phone:604 702-5727
Fax: 604 702-5711
E-mail: [email protected]

Ms.Diane Reed,
Squamish Forest District Manager
Suite 101
42000 Loggers Lane
Squamish, BC

Phone: 604 898-2100
Fax: 604 898-2191
E-mail: [email protected]

Mayor Ian Sutherland,
District of Squamish
Box 310,
Squamish, BC V0N 3G0

Phone: 1-877-892-5217
Fax: (604) 892-1083
E-mail: [email protected]

roots, rocks, rhythm
A little of this and that........nothing cheap! Try to buy local, which is really hard!
918 Posts
Just received this by e-mail so I thought I should share it.
Read into what you want.... :rolleyes: ....but it is not over yet!!!

Not sure everyone has seen this:

Thank you for your comments regarding the Powerhouse Plunge bike trail near
Squamish and the proposed forest harvesting in the area. I would like to
take this opportunity to update you on this issue on behalf of the Ministry
of Forests.
First, it should be noted that the area in question is provincial forest and
BC Timber Sales (BCTS), a division of the Ministry of Forests, has the
authority to carry out planning and harvesting in the area. BCTS has
recently submitted a plan to harvest a 44-hectare block of second growth
timber in this area.
BCTS staff have had two meetings with the Squamish Off Road Cycling
Association (SORCA), the most recent being Friday, April 29, 2005.
At the last meeting, BCTS agreed not to pursue their plan approval until a
couple of ongoing studies on the area can be completed. One study is on the
hydrology of the area, while the other deals with mapping existing and
potential trails.
The reports are expected by early July and at that time BCTS will review the
matter further. BCTS is committed to working with user groups in an attempt
to integrate various resource uses.
If the plan was approved, please note that at this time this is only a
proposal in a comprehensive planning process. I would like to share with
you our initial thoughts around the protective measures for the bike trail.
As the trail enters the proposed cutting area from the west side the first
400 metres would have a buffer on both sides. The next 325 metres is the
area known as "the plunge". It would be surrounded by an intact reserve
patch where no harvesting would occur. The next 130-metre stretch would
have a buffer on both sides. Then there would be a road crossing, which
would be kept to a minimum (approximately 6 metres) followed by another 500
metres of buffered trail. The buffer areas will be a strip of forest along
both sides of the trail. At this point, we are proposing a 10-metre width
where no cutting would occur, with a further 20-metre width where
approximately 60 percent of the trees would remain standing. These widths
are open to further discussion but we think this is a reasonable step to
maintain the integrity of the trail.
We also propose that once a final plan is developed that reflects reasonable
protection measures for the trail, we would work with SORCA to ensure the
timing of harvesting is scheduled around major events to minimize noise,
traffic and safety conflicts. Our hope is to find a balanced solution.
Again, thank you for bringing your concerns forward.
Yours truly,
G. L. (Jerry) Kennah, R.P.F., Timber Sales Manager
Chinook Business Area
pc: The Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia

The Honourable Michael de Jong, Minister of Forests
Grant Parnell, Director, Operations, BC Timber Sales Headquarters
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