Work in the field

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The Nanaimo River is a salmon-bearing stream, chinook and chum salmon, and the Nanaimo River estuary plays a vital part in their life-cycle. From February to July, juvenile salmon will spend time feeding, growing and adapting from a freshwater to a marine environment in the estuary.

Log booms in intertidal areas have reduced a large number of species and abundance of macrobenthos (amphipod crustaceans, molluscs and annelid worms) under log rafts. Copepods are the largest biomass in the oceans and also the dominant food items in juvenile salmon fry in the Nanaimo River estuary. Copepods are subject to loss of living space, drainage changes, tow-boat wash, ship activities and their impacts, log grounding at low tide and tidal currents.

In June Nanaimo was a port of call for a large condominium, "The World of ResidenSea", cruise ship right in the Nanaimo River estuary for 2 days( Both uses, ships allowed to cross and drop an anchor in the estuary, and the logging industry allowed to store logs in the estuary, have a dramatic effect on the salmon cycle of life.

The logging industry in the Regional District of Nanaimo claims that the Nanaimo River estuary access is vital to sawmills, providing them with affordable log warehousing. Log storage is currently an allowed use under a lease the province of British Columbia has with the Nanaimo Port Authority, which in turn sub-leases the tidal estuary land to several sawmills that use it for log storage. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans could possibly reduce or even eliminate this type of industrial use in the river estuary to improve fish habitat.

Log storage tenures were first issued starting in 1950 coinciding with a growth in the number of mills on Vancouver Island. By 1972 most of the Nanaimo River estuary was used to log storage. The water leases are administered by the Nanaimo Port Authority.

This photo shows the West side of Mount Benson. It was taken from a secondary peak on the mountain. Develoment for the wealthy was allowed by the Regional District of Nanaimo and is seen right at the bottom of the mountain.

The following photos were taken on the North-East slope of Mount Benson. They show very young trees being cut off the mountain slope. Very little profit was made by the logging company yet it makes other industries and activities in the region at high risk: the ecotourism industry, Nanaimo heritage, protection of Nanaimo water shed, parks. The logging company is building a road to the peak of the mountain. With so very little profit made there has to be another reason for destroying the forest. The Regional District of Nanaimo may well be in the process of allowing development on the slopes of the mountain.

Clearcutting of the forest is obvious. One or two trees were left over.

Only small trees could be cut. There is more left over trees and debris on the ground than trees being actually taking away.

The long road on the mountain slope has not yet reached the top. The logging company is making the slope available for more development. It may be soon before re-zoning of the land will allow 'the rich and famous' build homes on the slopes. It has already been used by large trailer truks to carry the trees away.

Nanaimo downtown can be seen on the right side of this photo. Also shown here is Protection Island, Newcastle Island, and Departure Bay. The photo was taken from a secondary peak of Mount Benson. The cutting of the forest and the road going up the mountain slope can be clearly seen.

The following three photos show again downtown Nanaimo, Westwood Lake Park, the cutting of the forest and the road going up the mountain slope.

Again Nanaimo downtown is seen on the left side of this photo.
Owners of the 209 hectares property on the peak are in the process of subdividing it into eight-hectare parcels. Cercomm Electronics built its radio tower on the mountaintop. The tower itself does not need to be on the top of the mountain to broadcast to the Nanaimo region and surroundings. Radio waves can travel very well from a secondary peak in a less threatening place to the ecosystem of the mountain and to the quality of life of the people of Nanaimo. If there were any chance at all for Nanaimo senior people to have access to the top of the mountain and build their own trail for viewing from the top then they would be looking at the radio tower like a sour thumb.

This photo shows Nanaimo downtown and Westwood Lake Park from the top of the mountain. The radio tower is on the right side of the photographer.

This photo was taken from the exact same place as the photo above. It shows a beautiful panoramic view of the other side of the mountain.

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Copyright 2002 Mount Benson Preservation Society