Lambton back where it started with woodlot bylaw

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Wayne Edwards says there is nothing wrong with Lambton’s woodlot laws; they just need to be enforced.

The Warwick Township man who made an impassioned plea to Lambton County Council may get his way.

After over two years of talking, revising, presenting alternate plans, county councilors decided to leave the Woodlot Conservation Bylaw the way it was for now.

St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold had reworked the bylaw putting a greater emphasis on educating landowners about the importance of tree cover and proper woodland conservation. But county staff was concerned about some of the ideas in the proposal including the idea of providing free tree marking service.

The Lambton Federation of Agriculture also expressed concern about the proposal saying they had yet to look at it. “LFA support exist of trees” says past president Ron McDougall “but we’re focused on the reduction of clear cutting. The LFA will not support a bylaw that will put restriction and unnecessary costs for items which are normal farming practices,” he told councilors. “It is the LFA’s opinion that Lambton County Council needs to clarify its intent.”

Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan suggested county staff; politicians and members of the LFA meet together to iron out any concerns saying the LFA represents 90 percent of Lambton’s farmers who hold the majority of the county’s woodland.

That idea was turned down by other county councilors who felt the issue should not be opened to more public comment.

Clerk David Cribbs told The Independent the effect of all the political moves is the 2012 bylaw – the one county staff sought to change two-and-a-half years ago – is still in place.

Edwards told councilors during a presentation they don’t need a new law, they simply have to direct staff to enforce what is there. “I can’t understand if this county has had woodlot bylaws since 1979 where have all our trees gone?”

“Where I live its all open land we now have dust storms,” he added. At one point Edwards and his family watched farmers use dynamite to remove some of the trees. And a neighbouring farmer who had planted a tree line to receive approval for his new pig barn took a bulldozer and removed them a year later.

Edwards says he was told by county staff there was an agreement to put the tree line in place but there wasn’t one to maintain them.

“Too many trees are gone from us…what have we got left for our heritage?

“Get your bylaws in place and use them,” Edwards a former federal adjudicator told councilors. “It is the fairest way of working with people.”

And he says farmers will have to obey the rules like anyone else. “It’s just like driving a car – it’s your car but you have to follow the rules…Sure you own your farm but, gall dang it, you’ve got to follow the rules.”