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Wentworth residents to rally against clear-cutting

AMHERST – Bob MacLean is tired of what he calls the destruction of the Wentworth Valley by forestry interests.

The president of the Wentworth Firemen’s Recreation Committee, MacLean and others have organized a public meeting at the Wentworth Recreation Centre on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. to gather input from residents on how to fight continued clear-cutting in the valley.

“From the ski hill you can see a big clear-cut on the side of Higgins Mountain and we’ve heard there are plans to install a bank of windmills there,” MacLean said. “We hope the elected officials get the idea that we’ve had enough and these companies shouldn’t have a blank cheque to do whatever they want.”

MacLean said Northern Pulp clear-cut the trees from the side of the mountain last summer and there are fears another company may erect a group of wind turbines there.

“It’s another example of taking advantage of our natural resources and we just don’t see any advantage to Nova Scotia,” MacLean said. “People are not happy about it and it could be the start of something else bigger. We don’t want any more of these forestry operations in the valley.”

He said forestry operations in the valley have already taken a large amount of timber including stands of hardwoods and maple that could easily be used for maple sugar production.

MacLean said residents are frustrated the cutting has been allowed to continue without public input.

“The Wentworth Valley is a pristine place. There should be a process that involves residents and government should be looking at that. It just seems as though government is just a rubber stamp,” MacLean said. “The scenery in the Wentworth Valley is second to none. We’re afraid that eventually it’s going to be scarred with bald patches where they’ve taken out the trees.”

He suggested there are responsible ways to harvest trees, but clear-cutting is not one of them.

Kathy Cloutier, director of communications for Northern Pulp/Paper Excellence Canada, said the company is not aware of any approvals regarding the installation of wind turbines in the area of Wentworth.

“We understand and acknowledge the community’s concern regarding sensitivities of the Wentworth Valley region,” Cloutier said in an email. “In the summer of 2017, Northern Pulp began an open dialog with the executives of the Wentworth Community Development Council committing to ongoing discussions regarding activity in the area. This commitment has been and will continue to be honoured.”

The Feb. 10 meeting will include presentations by Joan Baxter, author of The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest; Gregor Wilson from Ski Wentworth, on visions for sustainable four-season tourism; John Perkins of Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia about mining concerns; Karen Henderson of Folly Lake Wentworth Valley Environmental Preservation Society on wind power developments and Raymond Plourde from the Ecology Action Centre on how the forests could be managed.

MacLean is also extending an invitation to representatives from Emera and Northern Pulp as well as the area’s MLAs and MP Bill Casey and members of Cumberland County council.