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First Nation's logging stopped by protest

Nov 11 2011

Protesters halted logging for two days this week in woods that include fragments of endangered coastal Douglas fir forest.

The forest west of Nanoose Bay, known as District Lot 33, is being logged by the Snaw-naw-as First Nation, which was given a cutting permit by the province despite a twoyear fight for protection by neighbours and environmental groups.

About eight protesters were at the logging site Thursday, resident Barbara Murray said. "We saw one of the old trees go today. They are sparing a few of the old trees, but they will fall in a windstorm," said Murray, who describes the 64hectare forest as an oasis for wildlife and plants.

Almost all coastal Douglas fir forests on Vancouver Island have been logged. Last year, the province protected several remnants of the ecosystem, but said DL33 did not meet the criteria for protection.

Snaw-naw-as administrator Brent Edwards said work had to be halted because of safety concerns.

"There were people with signs, going in where the fallers are working," he said.

The forestry operation is needed to fund projects on the reserve and Crown land is extremely scarce in the area, Edwards said. "Our hands are really tied as to where we can access resources. We are putting people to work and that money is going to be reinvested in the community."

The First Nation is considering its options, said Edwards, who would not rule out asking the courts for an injunction. "We have done everything we can and tried to be as civil as we can and now we're looking at our options," he said.

The logging is as environmentally sound as possible, Edwards said.

"There are some oldgrowth trees in there and we are not logging those. We are only logging the second-growth," he said.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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