CBC reporters managed to get in a few moments with new Natural Resources Minister, Margaret Miller, to talk about the Wentworth clearcut and related issues.
Following is an abbreviated transcript of the 5 minute audio file. It was carried on CBC’s Information Morning earlier today (June 26, 2017).
Q: What are you thoughts on the Wentworth Valley clearcut?
MM: The public has been very clear about that in their concern about the area, you can’t blame them it’s a beautiful area but the reality is that the harvesting is being done on private land and except for normal harvesting practices such as setting back from waterways and leaving areas for biodiversity there is not a lot that can be done at this point.
Q. Do you not feel the province has any authority to regulate forestry practices on private land?
MM: Other than normal practices such as setbacks from waterways…at this point there is nothing.
Q. What is your appetite for requiring consultation with locals when clearcuts are planned?
MM: On Crown land, we do we give notification; it’s online..at this point that’s not done on private land, that’s not to say it couldn’t be…its all part of this review process that we will be looking at, finding a balance…
Q What about regulation for better coordination with the tourism department, in this case the clearcut is opposite the ski hill?
MM: It is private land, but it needs consultation.
Q. You [the government] had committed to a 50% reduction in clearcutting. Why hasn’t that happened?
MM: I don’t know why that hasn’t happened in the past. This is only my 3rd day in office. We will be looking at this very closely. We have heard loud and clear from Nova Scotians that they are not happy about harvesting across Nova Scotia. The Premier has made a commitment, I will follow that commitment and you will see some changes in future days.
Q. When did the government hear that loud and clear? It was only last summer that your predecessor changed the regulations so that you wouldn’t be pursuing the 50% target.
MM: Its just been in the last while that we’ve heard from private woodland owners and private citizens about the amount of clearcutting; just before the campaign, certainly within the last 6 months.
Q. What’s the benefit of clearcutting?
MM: A mature forest in some cases does need clearcutting and can be re-planted. There is a benefit in some areas.
Q. Almost 90% of the harvesting is done by clearcutting. Does that make sense to to you?
MM: We need to evaluate that, it will all be part of the forestry review.
Q. Is this review going to look at the extensive review a few years ago that two previous governments were involved in?
MM: I haven’t looked at a lot of that material but I will be looking at it, I dont know why previous ministers made the decisions that they made, things change, decisions will be made.
Q. Are you going to ask the previous minister – he sits just across from you at the cabinet table?
MM: You just never know.
Ministers and MLAs in the government have heard from lots of constituents about clearcutting for well over a year, including a lot of fuss in the fall about glyphosate use which landed on Margaret Miller’s desk when she was Minister of Environment.
It’s pretty clear that it was concerns expressed by the people of Annapolis Co. (in the Premier’s own riding), and especially the letter from Annapolis County Council in early March 2017 that made the sands begin to shift.
Tip of the hat to MP.