Red Arrow
Tuesday January 31st, 2012  
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Quote of the Week
"We have no idea if there is going to be a (car) show this year."
- Paula Brazzoni  
   
   

 

Story
Kimberley Massey photo
 
Close to 150 protestors from all over Alberta gathered near Beaver Mines on Sunday, January 22nd to show support for area residents who have been actively protesting clearcut logging in the Castle Special Management Area since January 11th.
The rally was held just inside the gate to the Castle Special Management Area, approximately nine kilometres south of Beaver Mines on Highway 774, near the site where protestors have had tents set up for more than two weeks in order to stop crews from Spray Lakes Sawmills (SLS) from beginning logging operations.
The rally was held three days after protestors were served with a Notice of Development from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) instructing them to vacate the area.
The notice informed protestors that while their campsite was on public land, the area had been approved for commercial harvesting and therefore public access to the region, unless specifically authorized, was prohibited and that anyone found to be in violation of the order could be charged for trespassing.
The rally took place just outside the area closed by SRD, with speeches, music, poetry and readings from dozens of protestors.
Among those who spoke against the province’s plans for clearcut logging in the area was Calgary-Varsity MLA and Liberal critic for Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation Harry Chase.
Chase spoke in favour of selective logging as opposed to clearcutting, as it is a more sustainable practice which would have less of an impact on the landscape.
“We are not opposed to property forestry management,” said Chase.
“There is no acceptable reason – economic or ethical – for what is being planned here.”
“This area is worth so much more with the trees standing than without them,” he said.
“This area is under severe water restrictions and those trees standing are what hold the soil in place, keep erosion from occurring and preserve the water.”
 

Peter Sherrington of the Stop Castle Logging group is one of the key protestors who have been onsite since the protest began, and said logging in the area has a global impact.
“This is not just a local issue, or even an Alberta issue – this is a national and international issue,” said Sherrington.
“We have to hold the line on this protected area.”
Following the rally, protestors returned to their campsite, where they were met by more than a dozen officials from the RCMP, SRD and SLS on the morning of Tuesday, January 24th.
According to protestors, officers advised them to vacate the area before they were charged for trespassing, eventually leaving without incident when protestors refused to comply last Tuesday.
That same day, the 13th day since the protest began, more than 20 area business owners – including owners of the Beaver Mines General Store, Turtleback Cottage Holiday Homes and Property Management of Crowsnest Pass, Eldorado RV of Lethbridge and Bow Point Nursery near Calgary – held a news conference in Lethbridge at the same location as Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s Cabinet Tour luncheon with business and community leaders, in order to voice their opposition to logging in the area, as it would significantly impact their businesses.
Following her meeting, Redford spoke briefly about the logging issue and said the project will go forward.
“We’re going to continue with that agreement – we believe that it’s a sound agreement,” she said, noting that approximately two-thirds of the Castle is a designated and protected area and that approximately seven per cent of the remaining area is logged annually by Spray Lakes.
“It is an issue where we have to balance environment and economic development.”
SRD officials said last week they would continue to follow due process and that they did not wish to see the situation escalate between the two groups.
As of Friday, January 27th, protestors were still on scene and logging had yet to commence.
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