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Protesters have no plans to leave Fairy Creek logging blockade despite injunction

Protests against logging at Fairy Creek will continue, despite a B.C. Supreme Court injunction granted to forestry company Teal-Jones, says one of the protest organizers.
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Activists gathered outside the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday, March 4, 2021, as an application for an injunction against blockades at forestry sites near Port Renfrew was being heard. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Protests against logging at Fairy Creek will continue, despite a B.C. Supreme Court injunction granted to forestry company Teal-Jones, says one of the protest organizers.

The court on Thursday granted an injunction application to remove protesters and blockades from an area near Port Renfrew. The judge overseeing the case also granted Teal-Jones’ request for police enforcement, saying there is “little or no likelihood the injunction order will be respected otherwise.”

Bobby Arbess of the Rainforest Flying Squad said the injunction didn’t come as a surprise, since logging companies almost always win such cases.

“People are mobilizing to the front lines,” Arbess said. “We’ll have a central intake location where people who are making that very personal decision to continue to defend the forest in the face of an injunction can get oriented.”

Arbess said he expects to see up to 150 people at the blockade after Easter weekend.

The group has been blocking access to the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew since August 2020, stopping Teal Jones Group from building a road into its planned cut block in Tree Forest Licence 46.

In its application for the injunction, Teal Jones asked for the removal of the eight-month blockade and authorization to arrest anyone impeding workers and equipment.

About 200 hectares of the approximately 1,200 hectares in the Fairy Creek watershed would be harvested, the company said.

Protesters say they are protecting one of the last pristine watersheds on southern Vancouver Island, and that logging activity could lead to erosion and ultimately destroy trees estimated to be as much as 1,000 years old.

Gerrie Kotze, vice-president and chief financial officer of Teal Jones, said the company has a long history in the province of responsible forest management and manufacturing value-added goods. He said the company’s work on the tree farm licence in question “will be done in a way consistent with our values of sustainable forest management.”

Every log cut by the company is milled in B.C., he said.

“The timber in these areas is vital to sustaining Teal Jones’s operations and hundreds of jobs in the province,” he said. “We respect peaceful, non-disruptive protest in our licences, and only recently sought an injunction after many months of protesters blocking certain areas of our operations. It is time for our work to get underway.”

The area of the watershed that will not be logged “is either protected forest reserve or on unstable terrain not suitable for harvesting,” Kotze said.

“B.C. government regulations require licensees to leave large signature trees stand,” he said. “There are no trees in the harvest area large enough to meet those regulations.”

Carole Tootill of the Rainforest Flying Squad said her group is concerned about preservation of old growth in other areas, as well as Fairy Creek.

“And we will continue to stand up for it wherever we can.”

jbell@timescolonist.com

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