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Protest blocks Duncan Lake logging

A group is blocking logging from being conducted on behalf of BC Timber Sales on the west side of Duncan Lake, saying it threatens caribou habitat and old-growth forests.

A news release issued by the group Last Stand West Kootenay, who also participated in the 2022 Argenta Face protests, said that as of Tuesday morning, they were standing with others and “actively preventing logging operations.”

But in a follow-up interview today, Andrea Fox of Last Stand West Kootenay said most people are simply witnessing what’s happening and not interfering with the logging contractors. Only one person who climbed into a tri-pod contraption to block the road may risk arrest, she said.

“It was really important to go up and there witness what was happening and bring attention to what forestry, industry and government is doing by allowing clearcuts in that sensitive habitat and allowing that to happen all the way to the waterfront,” Fox said.

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“That seems illogical and we should be beyond that. We’re smarter than to destroy waterfront.”

Fox said it was hard to say exactly how many people are involved, as their numbers fluctuate, and the site at the 58-kilometer mark is quite remote, about a 90-minute drive north of Kaslo.

Kaslo RCMP Cpl. Harland Venema has visited the site a couple of times, although no arrests have been made. He said there were about eight people each time, who could be risking charges of criminal mischief and disguise with intent. He understood the companies involved are seeking an updated court injunction.

The Ministry of Forests said any application for an injunction would have to come from the licenseholder rather than BC Timber Sales.

Last Stand West Kootenay is calling for a moratorium on old-growth logging and other clearcut practices that they say are “putting undue stress on forests, increasing the severity and intensity of fires and contributing to natural disasters and global warming.”

The ministry said the logging in question moved forward after consultation with local First Nations and doesn’t contain any old growth. Even so, Fox said the roads being built and cutblocks being laid out for BC Timber Sales are in buffer zones for old-growth.

Three years ago, the province completed a review of old growth intended to prevent biodiversity loss and responded by deferring or protecting 2.25 million hectares of old growth in addition to the existing 3.5 million protected hectares.

The government says it will continue to protect more old growth and has invested more than $200 to that end through various initiatives. But Fox said it’s not enough.

“We’re calling for better management policy from forestry which would include more landscape-level planning,” she said. “Not just deferral areas.

“We’re asking for them to fully implement that review and think beyond these islands of old-growth deferral areas. Without connectivity, caribou and grizzly bears can’t survive.

“We need to start accounting for the impacts of logging on the landscape and on wildlife and on ecosystems’ connectivity because that’s what makes our forests resilient. With these forests we have a fighting chance against climate change. Why are we conducting business as usual when we’re in a state of emergency?”

The Valhalla Wilderness Society has called for the area now being logged to be protected as part of their Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park proposal.

A police officer speaks with people at a camp on Duncan Lake set up to protest logging being conducted for BC Timber Sales. (Photo submitted by Last Stand West Kootenay)
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