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

Volunteers plant trees earlier this month as part of a City of Nanaimo initiative. (City of Nanaimo photo)
City holds ‘relay’ to plant 600 trees and shrubs in Nanaimo

Trees were planted along Chase River and at Third Street Park

Vancouver Island University organizations are raising awareness about gender-based violence during 16 Days of Activism, which includes the Red Dress Project hosted by VIUSU that aims to honour the memory of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. (Vancouver Island University photo)
City proclamation calls on Nanaimo to unite to end violence against women

16 Days of Activism campaign started Nov. 25, continues to Dec. 10

The Nanaimo Rona location. (News Bulletin photo)
Rona home improvement store in Nanaimo advises customers that worker has COVID-19

Store re-opened Sunday after being closed for cleaning Saturday

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Const. Joshua Waltman brings knowledge gained from working with people experiencing homelessness in Surrey to his new role as the RCMP’s mental health liaison officer in Nanaimo where he will work with people from across society who find themselves struggling with mental health crisis. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo RCMP’s mental health liaison says his role will take persistence and resilience

Const. Joshua Waltman talks about limiting anxiety and gaining trust of people in mental crises

Local poet and VIU professor Sonnet L’Abbé wrote and performed a song as part of the city’s Reimagine Nanaimo campaign. (Photo courtesy City of Nanaimo/Port Theatre)
Poet pens song as part of city’s Reimagine Nanaimo campaign

Sonnet L’Abbé encourages a friend to move to the city in ‘Nazaneen: A Song for Nanaimo’

Janice Perrino, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation CEO, holds information brochures for the Light the Trees campaign, part of an effort to raise $5 million for the new intensive care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Million-dollar donation has Light the Trees campaign off to a bright start in Nanaimo

Windsor Plywood Foundation supports Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A rendering of a restaurant building making up part of a development permit application for 113 and 161 Island Highway in Parksville. (IAG Developments image)
Development application delayed for high-profile Parksville property

Council refers restaurant/RV campground application to staff for further improvements

Most Read