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Tuesday February 7th, 2012  
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Quote of the Week
"(This procedure) has increased my quality of life so very much."
- Patricia Pichurski  
   
   

 

 
Logging operations in the Castle Special Management Area near Beaver Mines began last Wednesday, February 1st, following the arrest of four protestors who had been camped out at the site for three weeks.
RCMP and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) officials attended the site on Monday, January 30th, when Blairmore Forestry Officer Cory Wojtowicz (accompanied by two other SRD officials and two RCMP officers) presented protestors with an enforcement order from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, which specifically named five protestors - Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition President Gordon Petersen and area residents Mike Judd, Tim Greir, Sid Marty and Diana Calder - who had been at the site since the protest began.
The order, which requested enforcement assistance from the RCMP, indicated that any protestors who were on site Wednesday morning and refused to leave would be arrested.
On Wednesday morning, approximately 35 protestors were present at the site upon arrival of police, SRD and Spray Lakes Sawmills crews.
The majority of protestors left voluntarily and without incident, while Judd and three others who were not named in the court order were arrested shortly after 8 a.m. after refusing to leave.
According to Southern Alberta RCMP District Operations Officer Inspector Joe McGeough, the protestors were cooperative during the arrest.
“They were arrested voluntarily, as they said it was a matter of conscience,” said McGeough.
The four men were transported to the Pincher Creek RCMP detachment and released on a promise to appear in Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench on February 24th.
No charges were laid against the protestors, instead, they were ordered to appear in court to respond to allegations that they breached the court order ordering them to leave the site.
 

Following the arrests, SRD officers dismantled tents erected by the protestors and Spray Lakes Sawmills crews began construction to build an access road at approximately 10 a.m.
“It’s quite shameful, after all the public opposition to this and the thousands of people who have sent emails and made phone calls, that it has gone ahead,” said Petersen.
In a survey of 774 residents living in Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek, Cowley, Fort Macleod, Piikani First
Nation Reserve, Lethbridge and Coaldale which was conducted last April, approximately 77 per cent of respondents said they were opposed to commercial clearcut logging operations in the Castle, which was designated as a Forest Land Use Zone by SRD in 1998.
In addition, 74 per cent of respondents indicated they would support declaring the Castle as a Wildland Park, which would disallow any new commercial logging, mining or oil and gas practices to be taken up in the area.
“It’s really quite sad and shocking that the government would proceed despite almost unanimous public opposition to logging in this area,” said Petersen.
Last year, the Province issued an 81 square kilometre logging permit to Spray Lake Sawmills to be undertaken in one-third of the Castle Special Management Area, the largest portion of the province’s southernmost Core Grizzly Bear Conservation Area.
Petersen said that while operations have begun, he encourages residents to continue to contact the provincial government regarding the issue.
“Logging has started, but they plan to do a lot more logging than they have done today,” he said.
“It is still important to make our voices heard.”
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