Lambton’s Woodlands Conservation Officer says the landowner who took down trees in a pioneer cemetery didn’t break any of the rules under the county’s woodlot conservation bylaw.
Three woodlots on Petrolia Line were bulldozed by the landowner earlier this month. One of the lots contained a pioneer cemetery dating back to the 1840s. The landowner says he knew there was a cemetery on the property but wasn’t aware of exactly where it was.
Neighbours voiced concern about the cemetery being raked over with a bulldozer. The landowner contends the stones were stolen years ago leaving only the base stones and a few fragments behind.
Allan McNeil was also concerned about the trees coming down and called Lambton’s conservation officer, Tim Payne, who looked into the incident.
Payne tells The Independent there were three separate stands of trees with distinct gaps between them. “It wasn’t all linked together; there were two or three different sections.”
Payne measured the size of each plot using Google Maps data and says none of the plots were larger than a half-acre meaning the landowner wouldn’t need a permit to cut trees. He also examined the pile of trees on the site and says there were some sizeable trees but much of the wood was considered scrubs such as Hawthorne.
“It was my opinion that were cleared were not considered woodlot under the bylaw based on size and stems,” says Payne adding the plots were “not all linked together” making each plot less than a half acre.
Payne says had the proposed woodlot bylaw which county council recently rejected been passed; the result of his investigation could have been different.
The woodlot conservation officer says the revised bylaw addressed the issue of whether small woodlots which are close together should be considered one lot. “It doesn’t clearly state (those rules) in the current bylaw,” says Payne.