Forest Defenders are Occupying an Old Growth Forest to Prevent Imminent Logging in the Last Intact Watershed of the San Juan River System

Victoria, B.C. 8/10/2020 An informal, grassroots collective of people from across Vancouver Island alerted to Teal Jones’s road building incursion into the headwaters of the unlogged Fairy Creek watershed are prepared to block road crews from further work.

Forest defenders are prepared to remain occupying the roadway until the Provincial Government releases the recommendations from its Old Growth Forest Review Panel which Minister Donaldson said they will not release for at least another six months.

“It is unconscionable for the Government to approve continued industrial destruction of the last old growth temperate rainforest and new road developments into unlogged watersheds within the Premier’s own electoral riding while it sits on the recommendations made by the Old Growth Review Panel,” stated Bobby Arbess.

Forest defenders establishing this peaceful road blockade will escalate our tactics to stop the logging of adjacent cut blocks if the Government will not heed this demand to stop road development and release its own panel’s recommendations.

Teal Jones, the licence holder of TFL 46, over the past month has begun road construction in the old growth hotspot of Fairy Creek that would enable them to clear-cut the upper Fairy Creek watershed, near Port Renfrew. The company has felled and graded several hectares of old growth forest on a road network that will soon breach the ridgeline and enter the watershed.

Forest defenders have set up a blockade and tree-sits on a critical road under construction on the north-western ridge of the Fairy Creek watershed to prevent Teal Jones from continuing to build roads into the old growth rainforest. Protesters will continue their forest defence until the Teal Jones Group abandon their plans to log Fairy Creek and the BC Premier implements our demands.

Here is a dramatic drone video of Ferry Creek watershed by a young firefighter recently captured of road-building crews cresting the ridge into the very last unlogged watershed in the San Juan River valley rainforest.

In view of the forthcoming release of the Old Growth Strategic Review (OGSR) report and recommendations, being held up by the BC government for up to 6 months from early May, with no firm release date to the public, we are asking the Premier to establish:

1. The immediate and permanent protection of the entire Fairy Creek Valley, thereby nullifying all cut blocks and road construction approvals in the watershed and contiguous old growth forests.

2. An immediate end to old growth logging on Vancouver Island.

In an article in The Narwhal, Jan.27, 2020, Gary Merkel, one of the two commissioners of the OGSR states: “I think the thing that surprised me the most is the degree of unanimity and common thinking around ‘we need to get back to the land’ and about moving past political cycles … we’re hearing it from almost everywhere,” Merkel told The Narwhal in a joint phone interview with Gorley: “We’re managing ecosystems — that are in some cases thousands of years old — on a four-year political cycle. The management systems change from government to government,” said Merkel, the former chair of both the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation and the Columbia Basin Trust.

After completing their 14-day hunger strike for the old growth forests, James Darling and Robert Fuller met with two NDP MLAs last Saturday, and were rebuffed by them, giving questionable justifications for continuing the destruction of the OG.

We are now at the stage of final eradication of the ancient coastal temperate rainforest, reduced to less than 3% of its original extent by logging. Port Renfrew has billed itself as the Big Tree Capital of Canada and this form of tourism has become the backbone of its economy. Once again, this future is threatened by the indiscriminate eradication of the ancient forests in this region.

Blockade Directions: GPS coordinates: 48.6422452 N – 124.3608828 W

10 km on the Gordon River Main Line at Braden Creek Main Line (on your way to Fairy Lake after leaving Port Renfrew, turn left just past Deering Bridge and take the road up the hill to the right just before the bridge). Map