Protest Update January 25, 2012

January 25, 2012

Contrary to what you may have heard, the Protest Camp is still up, and the Protest Continues.

Here’s a photo from this morning:

Protest Jan 25

Protest, Jan 25

Yesterday, a big contingent of SRD officials, Spray Lake Sawmills and contractor personnel, along with a couple of RCMP officers came to the site. The logging equipment was fired up.

We called out for help, and a goodly number of our supporters showed up, as did the Pincher Creek Voice, and Global and CTV. Telephone interviews were done with CBC English and French.

Three protestors stood in the way of the machine, and said they wouldn’t leave. The SRD officers conferred, and then, just around noon, SRD, Spray Lakes, and the RCMP all left. One RCMP officer stopped this morning to see how things were going but, other than that, we haven’t seen any other officials.

More soon… Gotta get back to the site.

Advertisements

SRD Officers Expected to Show Up in Force Tuesday

January 24, 2012

We’re expecting SRD officials to show up in force tomorrow to try to evict the protesters.

Please call Premier Redford’s office, and let her know that you are opposed to both this action and to clear-cut logging in the Castle.

And, if you can get to the protest site tomorrow, we could use some help.

See http://www.pinchercreekvoice.com/2012/01/castle-logging-protesters-recieve.html#more for a story about today’s events.

Also, the following media advisory:

MEDIA ADVISORY

Castle Logging Protesters Expect Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Officers to Show up in Force on Tuesday Morning, January 24

For 13 days citizens have braved the cold to protest against plans by Spray Lake Sawmills (SLS) to clear-cut log in the Castle area, southwest of Beaver Mines, Alberta.
Today, Monday January 23, a large number of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) Officers and SLS employees and contractors were seen meeting on a side road in Beaver Mines.
Late in the day, SRD officers arrived at the protest site to serve a “Trespasser Declaration” which says that the tents that have been part of the protest are now “property of the Crown”.

Given the Trespasser Declaration and the large number of SRD and SLS staff and contractors in the area, the protesters expect to be visited by SRD officers in the morning of Tuesday, January 24. Officers may try to evict the protesters. It’s not known what time the officers might arrive, but it’s likely to be between 8:30 and 10:00 am.

The protest site is at the Corrals, approximately 1.7 km past the Castle Special Management Area (Forest Reserve) Gate, on Hwy 774 driving towards the Castle Mountain Ski Area. (49.418126 N, 114.289171 W)

Background  
Despite public opinion polls showing that more than three quarters of regional residents are opposed, clear cut logging in the Castle Special Management area near Beaver Mines is about to begin. The proposed logging will not only be detrimental to the watershed, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and area wilderness-based businesses, but will be an eyesore to everyone that drives to the Castle Mountain Ski area.

Experts on grizzly bears and watershed health have spoken out against the logging, citing irreversible effects on ecosystem function and wildlife habitat quality.

Local wilderness-based businesses are concerned that the proposed logging will damage their business opportunities.

Citizens are having a hard time understanding why, after thousands of opposition e-mails, five rallies and protests across Southern Alberta, hundreds of letters and phone calls, and numerous meetings with government officials, the government insists on proceeding with this unwanted and ill-advised logging.

Citizens are not convinced by SRD’s economic or scientific justifications for the logging. Rather, it’s commonly believed that the real reasons for the clear cutting are 1. welfare logging, and 2. turf protection on the part of SRD.
Local residents feel that SLS and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development have chosen a place to begin logging that will act as a “poke in the eye” to the public.
For more information:
Stop Castle Logging Group— Peter Sherrington, 403 627 3522
Satellite Phone at the Protest Site– 011 then 8816 314 66612 (International Call)

Jan 22 Rally a Big Success

January 22, 2012

About 150–200 folks from as far away as Canmore, Calgary, and Lethbridge turned out for Sunday’s rally. One after another, speakers got up on the makeshift stage to recite some poetry or read some prose, to sing, or to say a few words.

The messages were universally uplifting, but the overall theme was that the government, and particularly the Forest Service, is completely out of touch with the public and that something has to be done to rein them in. This is our forest, and we want a say in how it’s managed. And we want this unwanted and ill-advised logging stopped.

I think it’s also fair to say that the general feeling was that the Forest Service has all but lost its social licence to operate. The Service is seen as a dinosaur from another era that needs to either adapt or perish.

The event was also a perfect time to visit with friends and neighbours, and to reinforce the fact that we’re all in this together whether in Beaver Mines or farther afield.

Here are a few photos from the rally.

The youngest speaker.

Rally Image 1

Rally Image 2


Rally, Sunday Jan 22, 2–4 pm, Update

January 21, 2012

The rally will go ahead as planned. It might be a bit windy, but it should be fairly mild.

Please bring a friend and a sign.

The rally will take place just inside the Castle Special Management Area, approx 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.)

A few details:

1. To keep parking issues to a minimum, please car pool if possible.

2. Please obey the 50 km/h speed limit through Beaver Mines. There is likely to be a speed trap set up.

3. There are no facilities of any kind. The nearest washrooms are at the Beaver Mines store.


Rally, Sunday January 22, 2–4 pm

January 20, 2012

Here is the notice about the rally that the AWA sent to its members.

Dear Members and Supporters in Southern Alberta:

The Castle Wilderness Area is at risk. These past 8 days, our colleagues with the Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition and the folks of Beaver Mines who have formed the group Stop Castle Logging, have held a media conference and have been taking turns manning a camp at the site where Alberta SRD and Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd, a subsidiary of Spray Lakes Sawmills Ltd, plan to begin logging.

Their tenacity and strength as they were served with a Notice of Development by Alberta SRD yesterday is something they do for the greater good – for the protection of our forests, for the reasonable demand that we consider years old forest logging plans out of date; to show that as Albertans we want new and better science about managing forests implemented.  We want our forests managed not primarily for timber but for their vital ecological values, including the water security of downstream communities.

There has been significant work by all Alberta conservation groups on this issue from Waterton to Kakwa, and we all share in the message from the folks on the front line of the Castle. This is not just a local issue. We know the way our Alberta forests are managed must change.  Clean, abundant drinking water, habitat for wildlife, and sustainable recreation opportunities depend on that change.

Despite significant evidence from public opinion polls that Albertans want the Castle area protected, likely thousands of calls and letters since September 2011 to our Premier opposing the way forests are managed and seeking protection for the Castle Wilderness, and the science that shows us we need to update our forest management practices, the response from our government has been a “Notice of Development ” order served yesterday by Blairmore Alberta SRD officer Cory Wojtowicz, warning our colleagues they are trespassing.

On Sunday January, 22nd at 2pm, there will be a rally just inside the Castle Special Management Gate, approximately 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.) I am writing today to invite you to attend the rally, and if you cannot be there, to consider inviting someone you know to go. More details can be found at stopcastlelogging.org.

If you would like to read more about our recommendations for sustainable forest management please follow this link: http://albertawilderness.ca/news/2011/2011-10-25-news-release-southwest-alberta-groups-release-new-recommendations-for-sustainable-forest-management-1

This is one of those times when we must not doubt the power of the people, as Margaret Mead wrote so poignantly Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Yours in conservation,

Christyann

Christyann Olson

Executive Director

Alberta Wilderness Association

“Defending Wild Alberta through Awareness and Action”

Mail:      Box 6398 Station D, Calgary AB T2P 2E1

Street:   455-12 St NW Calgary, AB T2N 1Y9

403.283.2025    www.AlbertaWilderness.ca


SRD Notice of Development

January 20, 2012

Here is the Notice of Development that is posted at the protest site, plus the associated map with some editorial comment by savethecastle.org.


Protest Update, Jan 20, SRD Officers Post “Notice of Development”

January 20, 2012

The expected visit occurred yesterday, January 19, at about 1:30 pm. Five SRD Officers showed up and posted a “Notice of Development” at the protest site, and gave copies of the notice to the protesters that were there.

Mike Judd with SRD Officer

The notice says that the entire Spray Lake Sawmills logging area going up towards Beaver Mines Lake, plus a 100 m boundary around the logging area is “not vacant land” and that, “Access to and occupation of the Development Area by individuals that are not specifically authorized under the Public Lands Act is prohibited.”

In effect, the notice closes a very large area of public land for an undetermined length of time. The closure area on the map even crosses Hwy 774 in a couple of places. It appears that skiers driving to Castle Mountain Resort will be trespassing on public land!

The notice seems simultaneously draconian and toothless at the same time. On one hand, a large area of public land is closed to everyone but SLS by the signature of a single SRD enforcement officer. On the other hand, the document doesn’t even indicate what government department is involved, doesn’t indicate the official capacity of the officer signing the document, and says that “…failure to immediately comply with this public notice may, without further notice, result in enforcement action under the Public Lands Act.”  In other words, it appears protesters have been warned but not yet legally told to vacate the area.

It also appears that SRD is suggesting that the random campsites, that were set up legally set up before the site was posted, are now considered in trespass even though the camps are still within the time limits allowed.

The Pincher Creek Voice has coverage of yesterday’s events.

We are consulting with our lawyers to decide on our next moves. In the meantime, as no one has been legally been told to leave, protesters will remain at the site. Your presence would be much appreciated!

On Sunday, Jan 22, from 2–4 pm we’re having a rally to oppose the proposed logging. We’re contacting people now to come out to do some reading, recite some poetry, etc. We’ll have an open mike so we can hear from you. This may be our last best chance to keep the trees from falling by telling the government how much we’re opposed to this ill-advised logging plan. Please bring your family, friends, and signs with your messages for the government.

The rally will take place just inside the Castle Special Management Gate, approx 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.)