Collaboration between the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF) and Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) has been agreed to, sparked by a brief ELF road blockades at cutblock EW 24 in ts'uḵw'um, on Oct. 27 and 28.
“ELF and SCCF have agreed to put aside their differences and work collaboratively together on a monthly basis to discuss SCCF forest management. ELF represents a very important part of our community and our Community Forest is committed to work collaboratively with ELF to plan and deeply discuss what our future forests could look like and address our community needs now and into the future,” SCCF operations manager Warren Hansen told Coast Reporter by email.
While the two groups have yet to work out a meeting schedule, Hansen noted that a key understanding in their agreement is that parties will conduct themselves “professionally." “We thank ELF for their courage and trust that we can make the community forest something we can all be proud of,“ he wrote.
In a Nov. 1 interview, ELF spokesperson, Ross Muirhead said the group “has never had a direct request to meet for SCCF in over 12 years and we welcome the opportunity."
Muirhead said he wants to see the meetings be productive, stating “we don’t want to get into a situation where we are just spinning our wheels.” He said ELF would like to use the opportunity to share its comments on SCCF’s Madrone ecosystem-based management plan. “As a bottom line, we would like to see all of the Madrone recommendations implemented and get the community forest to agree to a minimum of 30 per cent protection of old growth recruitment retention, rather than being stuck at 10 per cent where they currently are.”
EW24 plans amended, logging under way
As ELF has declared the blockade over. Logging of cutblock EW24 (which ELF has dubbed the Elk Refuge Forest) in ts'uḵw'um, near the Sechelt Airport, started Oct. 28. Local contractor Triple Tree Logging is slated to complete the harvesting work in an estimated three weeks.
SCCF delayed a proposed Oct. 27 project start due to stormy weather conditions. Even with no harvesting scheduled, ELF set up its road blockage that day to further its demands that EW24 be protected for old growth recruitment, as part of the national healing forest initiative and as elk habitat. Muirhead, who was one of three protestors at the blockade, said they left about an hour as the weather was making it dangerous to remain on site.
The following morning the roadblock was back in place. Shortly after that happened, Muirhead said SCCF and ELF representatives had a “tailgate meeting” at the site and came to an agreement on the cutblock’s harvesting plan. That included SCCF making two areas originally marked as temporarily deferred from harvest changed to permanent deferrals. Those areas will be added to the company’s old growth recruitment deferral plan.
The parties agreed to work together to identify a location for the Healing Forest within old growth recruitment areas within EW24. On Sept. 30, National Truth and Reconciliation Day, the David Suzuki Foundation announced its support for ts’ukw’um Healing Forest, on a former seasonal shíshálh Nation village site. ELF is working on this project with hiwus Craigan of the Nation.