Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

With peaceful protests, sit-ins and a blockade, the battle to save old-growth forests has intensified near Port Renfrew.

Calling Fairy Creek the last intact unlogged watershed of southern Vancouver Island’s San Juan River system, “forest defenders” are adamant they will not allow logging in that area.

On Aug. 10, the group of 20-30 protesters from several communities across Vancouver Island annunced a blockade of the road leading to Fairy Creek. Members say they will continue to block forestry company Teal Jones’ road crews from any further constructions until the provincial government intervenes, or Team Jones Group abandons plans to log the area around the creek.

READ ALSO: What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Surrey-based Teal Jones is the license holder of Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 46 and protesters maintain the company has “felled and graded several hectares of old-growth forest” on a road network that will soon breach the ridegline and enter the watershed. Black Press Media has reached out to Teal Jones for a comment.

Protesters called on B.C. Premier John Horgan’s office to establish an “immediate and permanent protection of the entire Fairy Creek Valley, thereby nullifying all cut blocks and road construction approvals in the watershed and contiguous old growth forests.”

Arbess said that when he contacted the premier’s office Aug. 6, the deputy called back to assure him that it was an urgent matter and asked him to submit a written letter.

“I haven’t heard back since,” he said.

Protesters want the provincial government to release the recommendations of the Old Growth Forest Review Panel submitted to the Forest Minister, Doug Donaldson’s office.

The report prepared by an independent panel of Garry Merkel and Al Gorley was received by Donaldson’s office on April 30 and a public response was announced within six months of receiving the report.

“The report has been sitting on the minister’s desk for months now and we want to know what is the direction they are planning to move forward in,” said protester Saul Arbess. He said that while the ministry delays the report, logging companies continue to wipe out old-growth.

Protesters are also asking for an immediate end to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island.

“It is unconscionable for the government to approve continued industrial destruction of the last old-growth temperate rainforest and new road developments into unlogged watersheds within the premier’s own electoral riding while it sits on the recommendations made by the Old Growth Review Panel,” stated Bobby Arbess, another protester at Fairy Creek.

Donaldson said in an email that the ministry will release the report well in advance of the said six months.

“The panelists (Merkel and Gorley) asked government to release the report within six months of its receipt on April 30. We expect to release it well in advance of that, likely later this summer or in the early fall,” said Donaldson.

However, last week, in a reply to MLA John Rustad’s questions about his ministry’s $489 million budget at B.C. legislature, Donaldson said that the ministry isn’t considering a moratorium on old-growth logging for an industry that has seen steady increase in protected areas and restrictions on the Crown land base.

READ MORE: Big old trees almost gone forever in B.C., scientists warn

READ MORE: Nanaimo men holding hunger strike to protest logging of old-growth forests

Over the past few weeks protests have been erupting on Vancouver Island to save old-growths. On August 8, James Darling and Robert Fuller completed a 14-day hunger strike in Nanaimo to protest against old-growth logging.

Earlier in June, an independent study undertaken by Nelson based research firm showed that there’s only three per cent of old-growth trees left in B.C. The report calls on the government to update forest management strategy for the current mix of forests, and to place a moratorium on old-growth logging in any area with less than 10 per cent old-growth remaining.

Environmentprotest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake Babine Nation to receive $200 million in benefits through landmark agreement

“It is a grand day today for Lake Babine Nation,” said Chief on signing agreement with Canada, B.C.

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Kids finally back to school and masked-up

Two days of orientation to kick-up the school year

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read