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British Columbia Ancient Forests News
Protestors occupy cut block
Blockade results in temporary halt to logging in Lot 450
Powell River Peak, May 22, 2015CHECKING DETAIL: Biologist Andrew Bryan [right] leads City of Powell River Councillor Rob Southcott through the timber harvesting area on Lot 450, Island Timberlands' private managed forest land.
Opponents to Island Timberlands’ harvest in Lot 450 are chalking up a victory after a blockade of forestry equipment has resulted in a temporary halt to logging.
Nine women decided to take direct action and block a feller buncher parked in a cut block of the company’s private managed forest land in Lot 450 early Tuesday morning, May 19. Their action pushed the forestry company to withdraw the machinery and move it out of the area.
The women issued a media statement later in the day.
“After Powell River residents discovered trees marked for cutting with active bird nests in them, a group of women decided to protect trees containing nests,” the statement read. “The group is positioning themselves between the feller buncher and the trees effectively stopping Island Timberlands’ plan to continue clear-cutting.”
The women, as well as those standing on the picket line where Joyce Avenue and the pole line intersect, are asking Island Timberlands to halt logging until the end of nesting season and publicly release a cut plan that ensures nests and riparian zones around McFall, McGuffie and Wys Creek are respected.
“The community is not against logging but wants to see the precious urban forest which is home to hundreds of species including birds, bears, and cougars selectively logged in a way that preserves its ecological integrity,” the statement read.
Independent journalist Courtney Harrop, who embedded herself at the blockade, helped the group document the 24-hour protest with photos and video.
They met at the Island Timberlands’ feller buncher at 6 am and waited to see if an operator would be coming to start work that morning. Harrop said that the operator was quite surprised to see the women standing around the machine with their banner.
After it was clear that the women were not leaving, the operator left and the RCMP arrived to inform the women that the police had received a complaint, Harrop said. The police came in to talk with the women and advised them that they are on private land and they should not do anything which damages Island Timberlands’ property, she added. Police left without making any arrests.
An operations manager from the forestry company arrived to speak with the protestors, but left after realizing that their blockade would continue.
“Throughout the day there was a lot of community support,” Harrop said, adding that food and water was brought to the site.
Some of the protesters decided to hold the space overnight and camp out there. They were greeted by more supporters the next morning, Harrop added.
The forest company manager returned Wednesday morning to tell the group that the company would be loading logs they had already cut and requested that the feller buncher be allowed to be removed from the area, Harrop said.
“As a measure of good faith and to show that the people are reasonable and willing to negotiate, the group decided to let the machine get taken out,” she said.
The manager told the group of protestors that the company would halt logging until they had the assessment from their own biologist.
Harrop said she did not know when they expected that report, but she said that people “are not taking their eyes off Island Timberlands.”
Harrop’s video can be seen online.