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« When I look at the 2022-2023 cut projections, they’ll get what’s left of the Mont de l’Ouest. I will not come back. Go to an ancient forest at high altitude. »

Quote from Lewis Fradit, member of the Shake Shok Mountain Conservation Committee

Lewis Fradit, like the other members of the Chic-Chocs Conservation Committee, has good cause for concern.

The department’s plan to salvage timber affected by the fir shootworm calls for the cutting of areas of the Matan Wildlife Sanctuary that the commission has been trying to protect for 14 years.

Many of the planned cuts will be at an altitude of over 650 meters or even 700 meters.

Monts Fernand Favard, the shoulders of Mont Blanc, Mont Jamie Russell, Mont Beaulieu and Mont de Louis will lose their most fragile forests, including the ancient forests in which the Caribou took refuge.

Map of the planned cuts in the reserve to salvage timber damaged by the fir budworm. (Red squares indicate sites above 650 m where recording is planned).

Photo: Excerpted from the Department of Forests, Wildlife and Parks website.

It was precisely after a logging operation on a portion of Mont-de-Louis in 2007 that the Committee for the Protection of Mont-de-le-Chaux was formed, says Louis Vradit.

The retired teacher especially remembers the deforestation that took place at an altitude of more than 650 meters in an ancient forest. He said it was very clear. We decried it. We were in the ministry. We couldn’t believe it [le ministère] It attacks high forests, these forests are very fragile.

The person who maintains the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) in the Mont de l’Ouest sector notes that almost 15 years after the cut, the sector is still deserted. Trees are two feet tallMr. Fradit reports.

Mont-de-Louis is 922 meters high, he says, and is the highest peak in the Chic-Chocs west of the Matane River. Moreover, all these mountains, many of which are over 1,000 meters in height, are among the highest south of the 49th parallel.

A view from the top of Mont Blanc, in Mataney Wildlife Sanctuary, an area that the Mont Blanc Chic Choux Conservation Commission wants Gaspey to become a protected area.

Mont Blanc is now located in an area that will be protected, but part of the mountain is still available for recording (archives).

Photo: Radio Canada/Sandra Fillion

The misunderstanding grows for paradise as the forests are more difficult to reach in the highlands than in the valleys. These are trees that are very expensive to bring because you have to build pathsnotes Louis Faradette.

Many of the reductions envisaged will be carried out close to the bio-habitat of Gaspé caribou.

While Quebec closes roads to protect caribou from predators, forest companies will open others to access forests that are still intact, a commission spokesperson notes.

Ecologically Essential Trees

The ancient forests around the Parc de la Gaspésie are increasingly essential to the caribou’s survival. Caribou are allowed to feed on lichen and protect themselves from predatorsFor whom the caribou remains a symbol of Gaspé’s identity, stresses Mr. Fradit.

Lewis Fradit cannot explain the decision, especially since the ministry itself is aware that the budworm damage is less in sub-forests. These trees that live at high altitudes will help replenish the forest at the foot of the mountains, in the valleys, which will be destroyed by the budwormhe argues.

Lac Matane on a rainy day, at Matan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Lac Matane, in Matan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Photo: Radio Canada/Sandra Fillion

From an environmental point of view, this wood is still very valuable because it will nourish the soil. The decomposition of trees in the lower environment, dead due to fires or epidemics, serves as fertile ground for forest regeneration. If we go looking for all these trees that have died from defoliation, the humus will not be replenished, plus it will be discounted, and the rain will erode the topsoil and bring it into the waterways and we know what that does to the waterwaysComments by Louis Fradit.

« History repeats itself. It really lights us up. These are unacceptable things. »

Quote from Lewis Fradit, member of the Chic Shox Mountain Conservation Committee.

protected area

After 14 years of operation, the commission partially won its case in December 2020. A little more than a year ago, Quebec agreed to protect 203 kilometres.2 400 km2 Which the group wanted to protect from felling trees.

View of Bonhomme du Mont Nicol-Albert, in Matin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Le Bonhomme du Mont Nicol-Albert, in the Matane Wildlife Refuge.

Photo: Radio Canada / Genevieve Fillion

The process of making an area on the western border of the Parc de la Gaspésie a protected area has begun and the fauna and flora of the territory is now being preserved.

However, the entire sector east of the Cap-Chat River up to Lake Matane does not benefit from this protection, although there are many peaks there, including Mont Pointu and Mont de l’Ouest, as well as the majestic Vallée du Matane Lake.

We insist that [monts] Chic-Chocs even Lac Matane. We’re still struggling, Louis Fradit comments. He remembers that in addition to caribou, many threatened or endangered species reside in the wildlife sanctuary.

Eagles, thrushes and freshwater mussels

In addition to caribou, these tall trees are also home to rare and endangered species such as the golden eagle, whose first sighting around Lake Matani dates back to 1920.

In Lac de la Tête, keen observers can see two bald eagles that have been there for several years.

Bicknell’s thrush, an endangered species, nests on the eastern slope of the Lac Matane Valley. Come to breed in the summer in Chic-Chocs. In its small mountains of 650 meters and more, castles there find one of their distinctive habitats. If we don’t take care of it, says Lewis Fradit, it will be another species that will disappear from the planet because that is its home.

Lewis Fradit reported the existence of a mussel colony in the far north of America in the area of ​​the mussel colony. Mollusks live in the waters of the Matane River and Lake. This threatened species could be even more dangerous if cuts to the mountainside cause erosion and sediment buildup in the Matanei watershed.

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Two sea eagles (bald eagle), also known as the American eagle, frolic in the sky (Archives).

Photo: Radio Canada / Daniel Columbia

plan for change

This work is due to be carried out this summer or during the summer of 2023. The planning of cuts to public lands in Bas-Saint-Laurent extends from Esprit-Saint to the borders of Gaspésie Park, passing through Matapedia and the New Brunswick border.

In Bas-Saint-Laurent, the areas affected by the fir shootworm increased to nearly 9,500 hectares at the start of the epidemic, in 2012, to 1.3 million in 2020.

The same sectors are affected year after yearnotes Felix Tremblay, the forest engineer responsible for planning the Bas-Saint-Laurent Management Unit.

Quebec launched its advisory process on management unit 012-72 on February 16. Consultations will end on March 14. The public can view the work map online and leave comments.

Wildlife Districts, concerned organizations that are already members of the Integrated Table for Regional Resource Management (TGIRT) have sent their comments to the ministry.

Similar consultations will take place from 17 February to 14 March in the region that includes controlled operation area From the Cap Chat River.

Anyone with an interest in forest ecology is invited to speak. We will try to reconcile the interests of all users and there may be an adjustment in the layout accordingly.says Mr. Tremblay.

To get the real picture of the planned cuts, we will therefore have to wait for the end of the public consultation.

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