Land use trust under fire

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on January 10, 2016
Submitted photo
An angler fishes along the Salmonier River.

One man’s protected forest is a splinter in another man’s side it seems.

Despite reassurances from the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) that the public’s right to land use won’t change after it purchase the property, some people on the Salmonier Line and beyond are still wary.

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“No they don’t believe it. Nobody believes it,” says Richard Didham.

The Telegram spoke with Didham last week. H expressed concerns about the NCC purchasing properties in the Mount Carmel-Mitchell’s Brook-St. Catherines area as part of its Salmonier River Conservation Project. The NCC acquires lands private owners give to them or wish to sell to them. The non-profit charity is near raising the money to purchase lands on the Salmonier Line that will add 278 acres to the 158 acres of land already protected by the NCC in the area.

Andrew Holland with the NCC has been actively speaking with the media to alleviate concerns locals have and to ensure them that all legal activities such as hunting, fishing and trapping are fully allowed on any of the properties it owns and protects. He says the purpose of its land ownership is to encourage public use in outdoor and nature activities.

Didham held a meeting Saturday in his community that attracted more than 40 people. Their main concern?

“It was the woodcutting,” Didham says.

Chopping wood is one activity not allowed on the land owned by the NCC and the promise of hiking, kayaking, hunting, fishing and trapping being allowed isn’t doing much to cut down on the aggravation of some people in the area who say they won’t be able to cut wood on the property anymore.

No one actually  had permits to cut on the land before, but the owners allowed local people to cut there. For those who rely on all-terrain vehicles to get their moose out of the country, there’s further concerns.

“You can’t dig up a dead tree and move it out of the way to go in and get a moose,” Didham says.

The NCC is mailing out information and hopes to clarify and calm concerns over its intention to purchase the land. It currently owns and protects more than 13,000 acres in the province.