BC deferring Old-Growth logging in Fairy Creek

BC deferring old growth logging in Fairy Creek

At the request of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations, BC is deferring old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed and central Walbran areas.

Close up of Logger Mike, where protesters will be gathering on Friday June 11 – courtesy City of Campbell River

Deferring old growth logging in Fairy Creek  

Premier John Horgan said governments can no longer make decisions about public land that ignore the title holders and do not connect with the surrounding communities.

“Today cabinet has approved a request by the Pacheedaht to defer old growth forestry in Ferry Creek as well as the Central Walbran,” he said. “… Today I am proud to have deferred these territories at the request of the title holders and I am very excited about the deferrals that will be coming later in the summer and all through the implementation of our Old Growth Plan.” 

Quadra Island resident Rod Burns responded, “To use a Newfoundland term, I’m Gobsmacked. Did that come out of the left hand side of nowhere. It is great news, but you have to say thank goodness to the hundreds and thousands … of people who have been going to Fairy Creek by the day and overnight… It is wonderful, but why did it take Horgan so long to realize there is so much public support? But it is still an opportunity for delaying tactics, a moratorium.  It is not ending old growth logging … ” 

Map of area being deferred – courtesy BC Government

Pacheedaht Declaration

On Monday, the the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, and Huu-ay-aht First Nations issued a joint declaration, that they would no longer let others decide what happened to their lands, water and people. 

The deferral will be for two years and applies to old growth  areas. 

In their joint statement, the three Nations said that they will allow forestry operations in other parts of their land. 

Robert Dennis Sr. , elected Chief Councillor for Huu-ay-aht First Nation, explained “All nations have been cutting second [growth] with no concern so we will continue with that,”

That same day, Teal Jones told CTV News that “We will abide by the declaration issued today, and look forward to engaging with the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, and Huu-ay-aht First Nations as they develop Integrated Resource Forest Stewardship Plans.”

Logging of Old growth in Caycuse Valley – courtesy the Wilderness Committee

What does it mean for the rest of BC?

“Nothing,” says Burns, who points to the many old growth areas that are not protected. 

He gives the announcement a “1% hurrah, and 99% crisis!”    

While Premier Horgan once again reiterated his government’s promise to implement every recommendation of the Old Growth Strategic Review, some ask what about recommendation 6?  (“Until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.”)   

“We do need to go through a downturn in this massive ‘mass production and spit it out there.’ We are now in 2021, reaping the dis-benefits of such a corporate controlled industry. No common sense, just money, money, money,” said Burns. “If there is not enough timber to meet organized quotas, well shuckums, you’re the guys who over-cut in the 1980s, 90’s and 2000’s.” 

Photo of massive Sitka Spruce
This massive Sitka spruce, a picture of which went viral, is still not safe under B.C.’s new big tree protections, says Sierra Club BC. Facebook photo courtesy of Lorna Beecroft

Horgan’s message for protesters

“I’m hopeful that those who took to the roads of Southern Vancouver Island will understand that this process is not one that can happen overnight. I know that people have been passionate about forests for as long as I have been walking on this earth, and I’ve been in Southern Vancouver Island for most of that time. I’ve visited the Walbran, I’ve visited the big cedar at Cheewat, I’ve been in majestic forests: I understand the importance of preserving these areas,” said Horgan.  “But I also understand that you can’t turn on a dime when you are talking about an industry that has been the foundation of BC’s economy.”  

May 29 at Fairy Creek
Some of the protesters at Fairy Creek on May – Ralph Keller photo

Remainder of  Premier’s address

In the rest of his address, which is reposted in its entirety in the podcast above, Premier John Horgan said, “My government has been based on reconciliation with First Nations, environmental protection and building an economy that works for everyone. No sector is more important to history and the future of British Columbia than our forest sector. I was here last week with Minister Conroy talking about our intentions paper for the broader forest industry. Interior, Coastal, old growth, second growth: how we build a value based industry where we keep more communities intact and continue to have that success now and in the future.” 

He mentioned the impacts climate change is having on the forests: the pine beetle infestation; less water in Spring; increasingly horrific fire seasons – “All of this is the result of Climate Change”

“I want people to understand, this is not your grandparent’s forest industry. It will be your grandchildren’s forest industry if we manage it correctly:  working with Indigenous peoples; working with communities; working with those who are on the land right now, making a living for themselves and adding economic vitality to their area of the province.”  


June 11th protest in Campbell River

Rod Burns is one of the people from Quadra Island, Cortes Island and Campbell River that have been protesting old growth logging. Some of them will meet at Logger Mike, in Campbell River, at 11:30 AM on Friday. Then they will march through Shoppers Row to the joint offices of MLA Michelle Babchuk and MP Rachel Blaney.

“We still have to keep to full steam ahead, end old growth logging. The second message could be to change the logging practise from clearcutting, which has been a disaster for the environment, to selective logging,” said Burns.

Links of Interest:

Chainsaw teeth by Dave Hosford via Flickr (CC BY SA. 2.0 License)

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