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

Starting in June, Government Street will be closed to most vehicles between Humboldt and View streets. A section of Government Street was transformed into a pedestrian-priority walkway in the wake of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria plans 10-hour closures of Government Street come June

City’s business relief plan extended, Government St. from Humboldt to View closed noon to 10 p.m.

Cyclists cruised around Saanich at the 2017 Cycling Festival. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich scavenger hunt replaces annual Cycling Festival

Participants encouraged to ‘walk or roll’ to 20 secret sites, submit photo proof for prizes

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

A member of the Belmont Secondary School in Langford has tested positive for COVID-19, the Sooke School District announced Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Positive COVID-19 case identified at Belmont Secondary School in Langford

Other school members could’ve been exposed on April 20

This photo shows crews the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents early Sunday morning. (Central Saanich Fire/Department Twitter)
Central Saanich rallies around couple who lost home of 25 years

A GoFundMe campaign is currently underway for Carla and Brian Wallace

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

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read