RCMP arrested three people on Feb. 26 after they allegedly obstructed vehicles entering a worksite north of Kaslo, according to a police news release.
A 42-year-old woman from Balfour, 36-year-old man from Meadow Creek and 66-year-old man from Argenta were arrested and charged with intimidation after refusing to remove a wooden blockade that obstructed trucks from entering a logging site. All three have since been released from custody and are expected to appear in court at a later date.
The incident took place on the Deception Fire Service Road in the Greyhorse Creek watershed.
The three people arrested are part of the group Water for Life, which also issued a news release this week in which group representative Jessica Ogden states that “mass clearcutting of our bio-diverse, climate stabilizing forest reduces our community’s ability to combat climate crisis through carbon sequestration.
“We request a forestry reform to a more long-term, ecologically based forestry practice with more community involvement that will feed vitality back into our region.”
The group asks for the cancellation of all cutting permits in community watersheds, changes to the timber supply review process for the Kootenay Lake region to include climate change effects, an end to clearcutting on Greyhorse Ridge, a review of Cooper Creek Cedar’s forward stewardship plan by the Forest Practices Board, changes to the “unsustainable annual allowable cut using short-term industrial forestry practices based on volume-based tenures,” and the right to peacefully protest.
Bill Kestell, forest manager for Cooper Creek Cedar, contacted by the Star, declined to comment on the arrests. But he was concerned about what he said is misinformation being given by the protesters.
He said the protesters have been saying the cutting permit was approved by Cooper Creek Cedar.
He said the company doesn’t approve anything. Under the process known as the professional reliance model, a professional forester (in this case Kestell or another professional hired by Cooper Creek Cedar) creates a cutting permit that “meets or exceeds the eight government stated objectives that are part of a company forest stewardship plan. They involve things like riparian management, visuals, cultural heritage, biodiversity, those sort of things.”
That assessment work is presented to government which then issues a permit without evaluating or commenting on it.
“There is a misunderstanding around the protest that Cooper Creek Cedar was the approving body for cutting permits and road permits and that is not the case,” Kestell said.