Protesters maintain blockade at Fairy Creek forest; rally along Pat Bay planned for Sunday

The contentious battle over plans to log in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew did not boil over on Saturday, as some expected it would. But legal action is not far off, according to a representative for a large group of protesters who maintain the area selected to be harvested is an ecologically sensitive watershed.

Should protesters maintain their position, “it’s not an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘when’ ” arrests will be made by RCMP, said Joshua Wright, a spokeperson for the Rainforest Flying Squad.

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The Teal-Jones Group has an injunction, which was approved in court last week, that will result in contempt of court charges for demonstrators who do not clear blockades in one of four demonstration sites in the area when asked to by police. Wright said the company, which is the largest privately owned timber harvesting and primary lumber product manufacturing company in B.C., will likely try to enforce it once the snow has melted in some of the work-site areas.

Roads will be need to be built to access the trees.

“The judge was clear in his decision that blockades impeding our access to the area are illegal,” a representative for Teal-Jones said in a statement to the Times Colonist. “We are not in a position to get into next steps at this time, other than to say it is time for our work to get underway.”

The representative said the company’s plans in Fairy Creek have been mischaracterized. The Fairy Creek watershed ­covers 1,178 hectares, but much of the 216-hectare approved cut-block lies outside of the watershed area, the representative said.

“In fact, most of the watershed is protected forest reserve or unstable terrain, and not available for harvesting. We will harvest with the care and attention to the environment British Columbians expect, and mill every log we cut right here in B.C.”

Arrests were expected as early as this weekend, but Wright believes that day is further ahead. Still, arrests are inevitable, he said.

“So far, the RCMP, except for a police liaison now and again, haven’t shown up,” he said. “The company hasn’t attempted to get through yet. We’re essentially waiting to see what happens. We are holding fast. It’s a waiting game, really.”

While the battle plays out up-Island, local protesters are weighing in with an event planned for Sunday. The Victoria group will be assembled at 10 a.m. with signs on the Pat Bay Highway, on pedestrian overpasses near Pacific Christian School and Mount Newton Cross Road, voicing support for the Fairy Creek blockade.

“It’s basically about awareness,” said Meghan Mason, who is organizing Sunday’s protest. “We’re trying to let people know about what’s going on up at Fairy Creek.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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