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

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 exposure at Pacific Christian Elementary School on April 12. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Saanich elementary school

Pacific Christian Elementary School experienced exposure on April 12

Students from Cedar Hill Middle School play and hold a sign to protest proposed music cuts to school band programs in the Greater Victoria School District, during a Monday event. The district is facing a massive deficit and is considering a number of options for cutting costs. (Photo courtesy Laura Alcaraz-Sehn)
Massive student demonstration planned to protest Greater Victoria school band cuts

Band students from 15 SD61 schools will be at major intersections Thursday after school

A Damen Fast Ferry 3209. BC Ferries are considering buying five of the vessels. (Courtesy of Damen)
CRD transportation committee wants study on West Shore to Victoria ferry

Passenger ferry could reduce traffic congestion, boost transit ridership in Greater Victoria

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 more COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
VIDEO: B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

B.C. Ferries’ sixth Island-class vessel launches at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania. The ship is the second of two that will service the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route starting in 2022. (Photo submitted)
Second hybrid ferry for Nanaimo-Gabriola route launched overseas

Island-class vessel will enter service in 2022

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
B.C. red dresses symbolizing missing, murdered Indigenous women vandalized a 2nd time

Nelson’s REDress Project was vandalized along with an outdoor installation on Vancouver Island

Most Read