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

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

Quesnel Search and Rescue are looking for a missing snowmobiler on Yanks Peak Monday, Nov. 23. They are being assisted by the Wells RCMP, Wells Snowmobile Club and neighbouring search and rescue teams. (Quesnel Search and Rescue)
Search underway for missing snowmobiler out of Wells, Yanks Peak area

Two riders went missing while sledding on Yanks Peak Nov. 22. One is still missing.

Enid “Dimps” Horn was recognized for 50 years of leadership with the 4-H Club. (Photo submitted)
Watch Lake woman recognized for 50 years of 4-H leadership

Dimps Horn has been involved in 4-H since she was 12 years old.

Chris Warren, with his “comfort” quilt, donated by the Log Cabin Quilters on the loss of his home. (Diana Forster photo).
An American gold finch, one of many types of birds 100 Mile House birders may count this winter. (Paul Foth photo, submitted)
An American gold finch, one of many types of birds 100 Mile House birders may count this winter. (Paul Foth photo)
Annual Christmas bird count returning to 100 Mile House

After a hiatus, the count will be held in December.

(Black Press file)
Interior Health reports 31 new COVID-19 cases

In the region, health authority reports 235 total active cases

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

BCHL
BCHL pushes back season start due to provincial health orders

The delay is minimal, just six days, for now. But the league is open to starting up after Christmas

Most Read