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Efforts continue to protect the Argenta/Johnson’s Landing forested watershed

Aerial view of the effect of a forest clear cut. An initial courtroom defeat in the fight against logging in an Argenta/Johnson’s Landing watershed has instead moved the protest from the logging roads of north Kootenay Lake to the roads of the internet. — Photo: courtesy Camp Caribou

An initial courtroom defeat in the fight against logging in an Argenta/Johnson’s Landing watershed has instead moved the protest from the logging roads of north Kootenay Lake to the roads of the internet.

The protest camp, Camp Caribou, set up this summer by Brock Snyder and Mick Grabowski on the Salisbury Forest Service Road in Argenta, was used to call attention to Cooper Creek Cedar’s plan to cut six forest blocks (up to 40,000 cubic metres) on the “Face” near the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy.

The message of the protest was clear: cutting the mountainside in the area poses severe risks and losses to local people, communities, ecosystems, wildlife, endangered caribou, homes and to the only road to the community, due to terrain instability that in the past resulted in a landslide that killed four people in 2012.

But after having a B.C. Supreme court judge grant an injunction in late August that effectively dissolved their protest camp, Camp Caribou has set up an online petition to help save the Argent/Johnson’s Landing forested watershed at http://www.willetwildernessforever.ca/the-proposal/.

Despite the court ruling, the plan to log the forested watershed in north Kootenay Lake is putting life at risk, said Snyder. He said the effort to log the area is yet another in a long line of forested watersheds slated for “destruction” in the province.

“If logging goes ahead, it would have devastating impacts locally and globally, in the short and long term,” said Snyder.

He contended that the region should instead be included in the conservancy to help save the mountain caribou from extinction.

“The local region, including the ‘Face,’ represents a small but critical area needed for social, economic, ecological and climate regulation, for food and water sustainability, for caribou that are near extinction and for so many species that will be at risk if the forest is harvested,” said Snyder.

Clear-cutting forests is the practice of harvesting life, resources and the systems of life, said environmentalist Mona Southron, who supported the camp.

“And this is natural resource theft,” she said about the logging proposal. “The high, long term values of forested watersheds with their life regulating systems and critical resources, that are needed to sustain life and renewable economies on earth, far surpasses timber values, short term profits and unsustainable jobs for the few.”

The occupation site Snyder created, Camp Caribou, was served with a notice of application for an injunction on Aug. 19 by licensee Cooper Creek Cedar to have the camp removed. A court hearing set for Aug. 20 gave Camp Caribou 16 hours notice to prepare a case.

However, the judge elected to give Camp Caribou three more days to prepare a defence.

When court resumed and both sides presented their case, Justice Joel Groves ultimately granted the injunction to Cooper Creek Cedar.

According to a press release from Camp Caribou, Justice Groves “ruled that free access to the road that leads to an area the company intends to log, was their right.”

Snyder said Justice Groves felt, although significant environmental issues presented by the defendants were important, they “were not relevant to the narrower focus of the injunction hearing.” He suggested the environmental concerns should be taken up with elected representatives.

The ruling did not sit well with Camp Caribou and other environmentalists, including Southron.

“The mountainside has long-established ecosystems and biodiversity and lies within an old-growth, inland temperate rainforest … with a sensitive watershed,” she said.

Cooper Creek Cedar is now in the process of applying for their cutting permit and are currently in the timber cruising stage, planning forest road amendments.

Add your voice

For those about to summit

There is an upcoming forestry summit settling down in Nelson from Oct. 26-27.

Called the Forest Summit and Convergence (forestmarchbc.com), the event features speakers and an expert panel, synthesis and strategy sessions.

The convergence is a “grassroots call to action” that intends to influence and steer government legislation, policy and action, as well as motivate people to mitigate the climate crisis, protect forests and water and preserve species biodiversity.

Topics will include:

  • regional representation — possible models and how to make this happen;
  • forest tenures — alternatives;
  • climate change action and ecosystem restoration and protection;
  • education and transition for workers; 
  • the economics of forestry — alternatives to the current model;
  • alternative methods of forestry — on the ground; and
  • leveraging changes to FRPA and other policy — how can communities and scientists build on momentum.

The convergence is aimed at bringing together the diverse interests whose common goal is to restore and protect the ecosystems of B.C., including environmental groups, citizen groups, hunters, fishers, farmers, foresters, water protectors, community groups, indigenous groups and recreation groups plus scientists and other concerned individuals.

The event is for those who “wish to organize for change, unify our voices, explore solutions, take action and implement solutions."

The goals of Camp Caribou were:

  • to strengthen their case to appeal the injunction in September;
  • lobby Doug Donaldson, George Heyman and Premier John Horgan to have the Argenta/Johnson’s Landing area included in the park and save habitat for caribou and all wildlife in the area, and lobby Premier Horgan for BC Species at Risk Legislation;
  • as an alternative, for government to grant at least a two-year moratorium on logging in the Argenta/Johnson’s Landing area to complete further third party studies; and
  • to grow more capacity, and unite with all watershed organizations and communities, to stop all logging in all Kootenay watersheds.

— Source: Camp Caribou

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