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Conservationists walk out of land use talks The Western Canada Wilderness Committee's battle to protect the proposed Randy Stoltmann Wilderness Area north-west of Whistler has moved further into the political ring. As new logging roads are punched into the 260,000 hectare wilderness are 100 kilometres north of Squamish in the Elaho Valley, two environmental groups sitting on the Lower Mainland Protected Areas Public Advisory Committee walked out of meetings at Vancouver's Hyatt Regency Hotel last week in opposition to what the WCWC has dubbed the "talk and log" meetings. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and BC Wild have joined the WCWC on picket lines outside the meetings, protesting road building and logging plans in the proposed Stoltmann Wilderness Area. Other regions in B.C. — the Kootenays, Cariboo/Chilcotin and Vancouver Island — have had discussions on the creation of protected areas at regional Commission On Resources and Environment meetings. The Lower Mainland region has not gone through the CORE process, so the 12-member panel was set up to hear input from industry, labour, local governments and conservation groups on the NDP government's plans to protect 12 per cent of the province by the year 2000. The proposed Stoltmann Wilderness area was not among the areas considered for protection. While WCWC campaigners were happy to announce the resignation of two conservationist groups from the meetings, three remain at the table. The BC Wildlife Federation, the Federation of BC Naturalists and the Outdoor Recreation Council, are all still involved in the talks. The WCWC is asking the Harcourt government to place the proposed Stoltmann Wilderness Area under interim study guidelines so that logging and road building will be halted. The WCWC says logging must be suspended in the region because the Stoltmann Wilderness area contains the last significant stands of Douglas fir and red cedar in the Coast Range between Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

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