By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: June 8, 2012
No evidence, no witness, and well, no culprits.
Zilch is what has come out of local forestry office investigations in the recent and not-so-recent investigations into illegal tree cutting.
Readers will recall vandals had targeted trees this March in Coho Park Trail, and later near the Raven’s Plateau in Valleycliffe.
In trees targeted on Coho Park, one was felled, while the other was cut quite deeply, raising safety concerns for frequent trail users.
Don MacDonald, the forestry officer who oversees such investigations, said the trees targeted in both cases seemed to be targeted for vandalism, not for commercial purposes.
MacDonald said he investigates around 15 cases of illegal tree cutting every year.
Illegal tree harvesting for firewood is a common problem he encounters, but the two above mentioned cases were acts of mischief or vandalism.
“They were not very professional in cutting trees. The cuts were made with a small saw and a dull chain,” MacDonald said.
He said there have been six or seven such cases in the past few months.
MacDonald said no one has come forward as witness or provided evidence which makes it difficult to prosecute the culprits.
“It’s frustrating, but we are lucky no one got hurt,” he said.
MacDonald said almost 95 per cent of investigations are focused on illegal harvesting for fire wood.
“I understand the motivation there, but we have cases where someone is felling trees for reasons we can only guess.”
The forestry office has also drawn blank on two other investigations.
In 2009, a popular motorized trail, called the Forgotten Trail in Mount Mulligan area east of Valleycliffe, was left in shambles.
There was evidence of tree cutting and mud bogging, but the trail went cold on this one too.
“There have been no results on that one. We did not find on who did it,” he said.
Same was his conclusion for an investigation into the alleged unauthorized cutting of trees in the upper Paradise Valley.
MacDonald said he encourages people to report such instances of tree cutting to the forestry department.
“If you are riding your bike, and you see some suspicious activity, inform us,”