An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. (Submitted)

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. (Submitted)

Protesters defy court order, stage Easter weekend logging blockades near Cowichan Lake

Group says members willing to risk arrest to save old growth forest near Caycuse, Fairy Creek

Protesters erected illegal blockades over the Easter weekend that cut off logging access to six approved cut-blocks in the Caycuse Valley, just days after a court ruling against them.

Court proceedings that wrapped up on April 1 granted Teal Jones an injunction against blockades in Tree Farm License 46, but protesters said they are willing to risk arrest to save old growth forest. The Caycuse Valley and Fairy Creek watershed, which has also been subject to blockades recently, are both covered by the same timber licence.

“Enough is enough,” Will O’Connell, a member of the Rainforest Flying Squad, said in a press release. “The people need to take a stand for these forests because the government clearly won’t.”

According to Teal Jones, large sections of the tree farm licence were removed nearly 30 years ago and designated as parkland, while Caycuse and Fairy Creek were identified as appropriate for harvesting.

“The timber in these areas is vital to sustaining Teal Jones’s operations, supporting hundreds of jobs and the creation of wood products we all rely on every day,” the company stated. “The judge was clear in his decision that blockades impeding our access to the area are illegal. 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.”

READ MORE: Protesters rally in Duncan against logging at Fairy Creek

READ MORE: Fairy Creek blockades must go, B.C. Supreme Court rules

The provincial NDP government is not living up to a commitment it made to prioritize ecosystems and biodiversity in the management of old growth forests, the RFS stated.

“Instead they are continuing to grant logging approvals and auction off cut-blocks in some of the province’s rarest ancient forests like those in the Caycuse,” said RFS member Joshua Wright. “These ancient, coastal rainforest trees, growing in fertile valley bottoms, are among the biggest on the planet. It’s a huge betrayal.”

Another RFS member, Carole Tootill, called the situation “short-sighted.”

“We are squandering these huge trees, during a time when the world desperately needs their incredible efficiency at sequestering carbon. Not only that, but these areas filled with monumental, awe-inspiring trees could also have been magnets for eco-tourism. Instead of only providing a few jobs this year, to cut them down, move and process them, they could have been the basis for sustainable eco-tourism jobs and businesses that would be there year after year, into the future.”

The provincial government promised last September to implement the recommendations of a report it commissioned about the future of old growth forests, but activists are disappointed with the speed at which that is happening.

“It’s high time they keep their promise,” said O’Connell.

Provincial Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations Katrine Conroy said the government took immediate action on four of the recommendations last September, and committed to implementing the other 10.

“Our commitment to this important work has not changed,” Conroy said. “In September, we worked collaboratively with First Nations on a government-to-government basis and protected old growth in nine different areas that were at high-risk across B.C. This was an important step in acting on the top two recommendations from the old growth report.

“We know there is much more work to do. To get this right, we will follow the advice of the old growth report and fully engage Indigenous leaders, industry, workers, communities, and environmental groups to find the right way forward for old growth forests in B.C.

An immediate moratorium would risk thousands of jobs, Conroy noted. She also acknowledged that making no changes to current logging practices would damage key ecosystems.

“There is a better way for B.C. to manage old growth forests and our government will work collaboratively with all our partners to do this,” Conroy vowed.

cowichan valleyprotest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at Maple Bay Elementary between April 12 and 15. (Google Maps screenshot)
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Maple Bay Elementary

Exposures may have occurred between April 12 and 15

”It was an angry welcome for Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Jan Pullinger when she arrived in Lake Cowichan Monday to open her constituency office. She was greeted with some of her long time supporters calling her a ‘liar’. Left to right, Jan Pullinger, Director of Area I, Lois Gage, school trustee Rolli Gunderson, school trustee Pat Weaver, Save our School Committee Chairperson, Tara Daly.” (Lake News/April 17,1996)
Flashback: Garbage, geography and tragedy

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read