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Old-Growth Logging - Walbran Valley & The Sunshine Coast

The Bookie

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Couple of interesting stories playing out simultaneously in the logging industry now on the coast. It'll be interesting to see if what happens on Mt. Elphinstone affects the Walbran.

All of it brings to mind the epic Clayoquot Sound (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayoquot_protests) protests of the 90s; not sure if that kind of reaction could be replicated or if there's too much environmental apathy these days.

Logging protesters win temporary victory on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast
'This is some of the last old growth forest in the world,' says protester

CBC News Posted: Sep 21, 2015 5:00 AM PT Last Updated: Sep 21, 2015 5:00 AM PT

Protesters fighting plans to log an old-growth forest on the Sunshine Coast are celebrating a temporary victory after construction of a logging road was halted temporarily.

The protesters, who have set up camp near Roberts Creek, say the area is an important bear habitat that will be destroyed if the trees come down.

Hans Penner has been taking turns blocking access to a service road in the Dakota Creek area of Mount Elphinstone, where the government has plans to auction off 53 hectares of old-growth timber, including ancient balsam, hemlock and yellow cedar.

"This is some of the last old growth forest in the world," Penner said. "So really, the natural history, the cultural history is actually irreplaceable. It doesn't exist anywhere else."


Hans Penner is fighting to protect several hectares of old-growth timber, including ancient balsalm, hemlock and yellow cedar. (CBC)

Penner said the area has become a sanctuary for bears. He hired biologist Wayne McCrory who identified seven likely bear dens in the one day.

Bears pushed out by logging

Penner said there are so many bears here because they've been pushed out of other areas by logging. That is why the government needs to protect what little old-growth forest remains in the province, he added.

He said he's been trying to persuade the government for years, compiling evidence, but eventually resorted to the protest in the woods.

"Blocking a road was a last resort," he said. "We had spent over two years already doing our own studies, like the bear den report, the archaeological report, biodiversity reports, trying to convince the government that this area should not be logged."

The protest appears to have made an impact.

Earlier this week, contractors stopped building roads and preparing the land for logging. On Saturday, the government confirmed that the road building has stopped, and the company will review its options over the winter.


BC government approves logging in central Walbran Valley
Friday, September 18, 2015 (All day)

News Release

Environmental and public concerns ignored by company and provincial government

VICTORIA – Today the British Columbia government approved a contentious cutblock in the central Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island. The central Walbran is one of Canada’s most important stands of unprotected old-growth rainforest. Logging company Teal Jones received a new permit from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to cut endangered old-growth trees.

“This is a total abdication of responsibility from the BC government,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “This type of old-growth forest is simply too rare to destroy, and the fact that the government isn’t responding to this crisis is shameful.”

At low elevation, less than 10 per cent of Vancouver Island’s old-growth rainforest remains standing.

The Wilderness Committee obtained preliminary logging plans from Teal Jones at the end of May, and were shocked to learn the company had laid out eight new cutblocks in the central Walbran – a legendary tract of intact forest amongst a sea of clearcuts on southwestern Vancouver Island.

The area comprises only a fraction of Teal Jones’ forest tenure, but the company has refused requests to look at other harvest options. In the last few months, nearly 3,500 citizens have written to the Premier and Minister of Forests, demanding that the government deny logging permits in the Valley.

Among those opposed are citizens willing to re-ignite a War in the Woods-style conflict last seen in the Walbran Valley in the early nineties.

“We don’t want this go to a blockade,” Coste said. “The provincial government has the ability to avoid that, and it’s time for them to step up – they need to rescind this permit and start engaging with the company, local First Nations and the public on alternatives.”

The Wilderness Committee has requested emergency meetings with Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, but thus far the Minister has refused.

“The level of public opposition to these logging plans has been unprecedented. We’ve heard from thousands of people who can’t understand how the Minister of Forests can remain missing in action on an issue this critical,” said Coste.

Along with other groups, the Wilderness Committee has hosted public demonstrations and rallies, and visited the central Walbran several times in the past few months.

The Walbran Valley contains some of the oldest and largest redcedar and sitka spruce trees in Canada – some as wide as four metres across at their base. The Walbran is located in unceded Nuu-chah-nulth territory.


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There is a massive bear population on the Coast regardless of having dens in the above mentioned area, they exist all throughout the Coast.

Bears are not concentrating there because of logging pratices throughout the Coast, there is a strong overall population and yes this area may be more ideal so you will find more but not because logging elsewhere has " pushed " the bears there.

Contractors stopping their work on building roads has likely as much to do with the change of season and weather as it does having people protesting.

Now I can understand the importance of bear and other wildlife habitat, not to mention the positive that old growth forest has on the environment within the area. I wonder how much of a negative impact this may have on the comunity as opposed to an uncomfortable impact.

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