This is a guest post by filmmaker Daniel J. Pierce.
The Wilderness Committee and other forest activists were in court in Victoria on Monday to limit Teal Jones' latest attempt to obtain a new injunction against logging protesters in the Walbran Valley.
Despite appeals from activists and a packed gallery of Walbran supporters, Teal Jones was awarded the injunction, which expires at the end of March, rather than September as they had requested.
The injunction creates 50-meter “bubble zones” around Teal Jones' machines, vehicles and work crews in the Walbran Valley, prohibiting the public from coming within 50 meters of any logging activities within the company's Tree Farm License 46.
Justice Jennifer Power acknowledged that the Walbran Valley is an area of high public value, but she settled on the conclusion that Teal Jones does have the right to harvest timber in the area — and the public does not have a right to interfere with the company’s operations.
Activists started blockading Teal Jones' road-building and forestry activities in the Walbran Valley in early November 2015, when the B.C. government approved cut-block 4424 north of the Walbran River.
This highly contentious ancient forest — which is unfragmented by logging — falls within an area known as “the bite.” Environmental groups are calling on the government to include “the bite” into the adjacent Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park.
The Wilderness Committee fears that the scope of this new injunction is overly broad and will interfere with lawful conservation activities in the Walbran, discouraging people from witnessing the logging or experiencing these ecosystems.
“This injunction might scare people away from going to the Walbran Valley to see the ancient forest, and it could chill public discussion about the logging and civil disobedience that has been occurring in the area,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee.
But the Wilderness Committee vows to continue to engage in its public awareness campaign in the Walbran Valley.
“We’ll continue to monitor the Valley, take photographs and bring people in to see this world-class ecosystem up close,” Coste explained.
“Teal Jones’ own lawyers told the court there is nothing wrong with citizens being in the Walbran in accordance with the injunction, so we encourage people to get up there, conduct themselves lawfully and witness what’s happening.”
Image: Daniel J. Pierce