Whether protestors like it or not, loggers plan to get to work in the Blackwater Creek area on Monday.
After a three-month wait, Norm LeBlanc, owner of Lizzie Bay Logging, said crews will finally begin to selectively harvest timber from the 31-hectare parcel of land.
The issue of logging in Blackwater Creek has been an ongoing source of controversy in the community.
In April, B.C. Timber Sales sold logging rights to the parcel of land, which is about 85 kilometres north of Whistler, to Lizzie Bay Logging.
Concerned locals who felt the land should be protected soon joined together to form the Blackwater Stewardship group. They say harvesting in the area will jeopardize traditional lands the N’Quatqua people have used to gather medicinal herbs and the rare pine mushroom.
“We don’t feel that the consultation process was fair,” said Mariko Kage, coordinator of the Blackwater Stewardship group. “It didn’t reflect the community’s wishes.”
Local wilderness groups have raised further environmental concerns, saying the logging could endanger spotted owl habitat and damage an old growth forest.
Terry Sullivan, spokesperson for BCTS, said legal and environmental issues were addressed in their site plan before the logging rights were sold, and that the licensee is free to begin harvesting as long as they notify BCTS five days in advance.
But as of Wednesday, Sullivan said they had received no notification from Lizzie Bay Logging.
LeBlanc said while he appreciates the protestors’ political and territorial issues, he believes many of their environmental concerns are unfounded.
“Lizzie Bay Logging recognizes that there are territorial issues at stake, and respects that. However, from a third party perspective, a lot of the environmental issues appear to be fabricated,” said LeBlanc.
“…This is out of control. I support the traditional area concerns and those politics, but I can’t support sitting back and watching illegitimate environmental issues become the forefront of the story, because it’s not.”
LeBlanc also believes poor communication between BCTS and the N’Quatqua community has made the situation in Blackwater Creek worse.
Kage said she was surprised to hear that logging was scheduled to start Monday, because LeBlanc recently told a group member he had no intention of harvesting yet.
“To say the very least, it’s quite troubling.”
Kage said they now plan to camp overnight Sunday and try and gather as many members of the community as possible to protest Monday morning.
The group also plans to hold a public meeting on Saturday, July 14 at the N’Quatqua Hall in D’Arcy.
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