Eugene Conway suspects his activism on forestry issues was behind clearcutting around his central Avalon cabin. — Submitted photo
Eugene Conway can’t help but wonder if his forest preservation protests brought down havoc in his own backyard.
Conway’s cabin, which he built in the 1970s with a permit on Crown land in the Clam River area of central Avalon Peninsula was once sheltered from the road by a stand of forest.
But not anymore.
“It was well protected from the main road coming in. Now when you drive in over the ridge, it’s sitting out in plain view,” he said, adding the clearcutting netted less than 20 cords of wood for the contractor.
He figures it took place sometime in October.
A friend of his was using the cabin
and told Conway what happened. Conway recently got in to take some photographs.
“While I always expected Forestry officials would find some way to get back at me for my efforts in stopping the clearcutting of Lockyers Waters and Halls Gullies, I never thought Forestry bureaucrats would stoop so low as to clear cut the area around my cabin,” Conway told The Telegram.
Conway first became active in forestry issues in 1990 protesting a logging trail, where silt was being dumped in the Clam River.
In 1996 with the help of the International Association for Lichenology, he was instrumental in stopping a proposed clearcut logging of about 12 square kilometres in Lockyer’s Waters, an Avondale watershed about 40 kilometres from St. John’s. Conway was seeking to protect the rare and endangered tree lichen boreal felt lichen erioderma pedicellatum.
In 2006, he led the location of 2,000 endangered boreal felt lichen in the Fox Marsh area after foresty constructed a road into Halls Gullies, preventing clear cut logging of 35 square kilometres of old growth forest.
He said since the clearcutting around his cabin, it has been broken into, a problem he never had before, as it was sheltered from view.
“It’s an open target now,” Conway said.
There are a few trees left at the back of his cabin. Now in his 60s, Conway doesn’t expect the rest to grow back in his lifetime.
“I was disgusted at what had been done, acting so small and getting back at me. There was absolutely no need of it,” Conway said.
He said there’s no point in him complaining to Natural Resources.
“One time I would have kicked up one hell of a stink,” Conway said. “They wanted to get back at me and they got back at me.”
According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources, a person applying for a licence to occupy a remote cottage does so on the condition forest management activities may take place in the area.
The department said Conway has a licence for a cottage in the commercial cutting area known as Mushroom Gully in Forest Management District 1. In this area, commercial cutting is approved under the department’s five-year sustainable forest management plan.
The spokeswoman said the department maintains a required 20-metre buffer around remote cottages.
In this case, the department said it maintained a buffer exceeding the minimum requirements.
“The department appreciates, respects and acknowledges the efforts of individuals who advocate for conservation and forestry-related matters, and does not conduct forest management activities as retribution for forestry advocacy,” the emailed statement said.