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Mount Currie weighs into logging debate

Pemberton timber also in Mount Currie band territory

Weyerhaeuser and CRB Logging have faced some stiff opposition to their proposal to log the area behind the Signal Hill elementary school and now another formidable opponent is about join the chorus of protests.

In addition to being right behind the Village of Pemberton and inside the town’s watershed, the area Weyerhaeuser and CRB are proposing to log is also on land claimed by the Mount Currie Band to be part of its traditional territory.

The Mount Currie Band has a "good relationship" with the Pemberton council and it has already sent a letter supporting council’s bid to stop the project.

But the band is about to send another package of information to the Ministry of Forests and Weyerhaeuser to indicate what research Mount Currie would like to see completed before any logging happens.

Many of their concerns centre on known archaeological sites around Pemberton and the fact that there could be more of them in the area that is proposed to be logged.

Spokesman for the Mount Currie Band Sheldon Tetreault said the Mount Currie Band council and chief shared many of the Pemberton council’s concerns.

"Mount Currie and the Lil’wat is concerned when there’s logging going on anywhere in the territory because we’ve always been marginalized from the activity and we have a right in Canadian law to participate in the economic benefit of those activities on the land," said Tetreault.

"So whenever there’s an activity we’re always concerned and we’re always trying to make a case that we should be involved or benefiting from it.

"There’s no difference in this case except that there’s another community (Pemberton) that has their own concerns, and we share those.

"We feel the local communities should have a say on the development that happens in their backyard.

"In addition to saying that we’re supporting the position of the Pemberton council, internally we’re also going through a process where we have all of the information about the proposed logging and we’re assessing the impact the logging would have on Lil’wat Aboriginal rights and title."

Tetreault said the band had recorded several sacred sites in the Pemberton area and it wanted the logging companies to help facilitate an archaeological survey of the area.

"There are known archaeological sites in that area of the proposed logging so these will need to be identified and highlighted to the Ministry of Forests," said Tetreault.

"The sites that I’m aware of, there is a number of pit houses, which is not a burial area, but like a small gathering site.

"There’s also a recorded area of culturally modified trees, which are trees used specifically for cedar bark materials.

"We think the likelihood is very high that there’s other archaeological sites there and we believe that they (the logging companies) have a duty to ensure the area is surveyed properly to identify all the sites," he said. "And we need to talk about how we could mitigate any kind of impact on those sorts of things."

The Mount Currie Band is now is the process of collating their archival material and sequencing it with the maps of the Pemberton area.

At the same time the Pemberton council will begin working with a local forester, John Davies, to develop a community forest and wildfire management plans.

Davies said he would be meeting with Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner later this month to work on the details of the plan, which would eventually have to be approved by the provincial government.

"A community forest would be run by the municipality and they would be free to hire whoever they want, which could include CRB, to help with logging in there," said Davies.

"The other option is they could put their logging sales up to the highest bidder."