Logging company applying for injunction to remove blockades

Teal Jones has filed an application with the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an injunction to remove blockades at Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew and other areas of its logging operations on the South Island.

Protesters have been preventing Teal Jones’ road building and logging crews from accessing its cut block on Tree Forest License 46 at various access points for nearly seven months.

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A group calling themselves “forest defenders” have been blocking access to the Fairy Creek area, which they say contains the last unlogged watershed in the San Juan River System. Teal Jones is trying to build access roads to an area it wants to log, but the protesters say it would have adverse affects on a protected area of old growth in the valley below.

Protesters have also set up satellite camps to prevent old-growth logging in other areas, including the Walbran Valley, Bugaboo Creek near Avatar Grove, and Edinburgh Mountain.

“It’s not that we’re anti-logging,” Kathleen Code, a spokeswoman for the protesters, said Saturday. “We don’t obstruct second-growth logging. It’s the old-growth forests we have so little of. … That’s our primary focus, that’s what we are protecting.”

The application for the injunction will be heard in Vancouver on March 4.

Teal Jones is asking the court to remove the blockades until at least Sept. 4 so it can finish building roads and begin logging.

Court documents reveal Teal Jones is asking for blockades removed from the area bordered by the E&N Railway Land Grant Boundary to the east, the San Juan River and the Pacific Rim National Park boundary to the south, the boundary of the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park to the west and the Nitinaht River and Nitinaht Lake to the north.

The company is also asking the court to authorize the RCMP to arrest and remove anyone contravening a potential order.

Teal Jones said in its application the defendants and others are “free to participate in a peaceful, lawful and safe protests” provided they comply with terms of the order.

“These blockades have caused significant disruption to Teal Cedar’s business and that of its contractors,” the company said in its application to court. “They have impeded Teal Cedar’s ability to access valuable resources to which it is legally entitled. The blockades threaten not only Teal Cedar’s right to harvest timber, but also the continued operation of its mills.

“An injunction is necessary to prevent further unlawful attacks on Teal Cedar’s business.”

Teal Cedar is a division of Teal Jones.

The protesters say they are taking a “last stand” for B.C.’s ancient forests. “We have had incredible support over the past six months, and we will continue to resist Teal Jones’ efforts to log this pristine watershed, the surrounding rain forest, and all other old growth forests,” said Bobby Arbess, who was named by the company as the defendant in the notice.

“The pressure is now on Premier John Horgan to immediately implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review and put an end to old-growth logging, as the B.C. NDP campaigned on,” he added. “We know the vast majority of British Columbians want our old-growth forest preserved.”

The protest group plans on defying a potential order and is calling on others to join them at Fairy Creek “to prepare to participate in a campaign of civil disobedience to defend the very last of Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests at Fairy Creek.”

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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