Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) is maintaining the blockade it set up Feb. 12 to prevent work crews from getting into AJB Investments’ property in the Chapman Creek watershed.
The blockade followed news the company had begun road building and logging on a cutblock known as DR7.
More than two dozen supporters gathered at the blockade last Friday to mark the end of the first week.
ELF’s Hans Penner told the crowd the fight over logging in the Chapman Creek watershed is about more than saving trees.
“With Chapman Creek, although we’re trying to protect the forest, we’re also trying to protect the water supply,” he said. “I think most of us agree that the supply of fresh water is the most important thing on a day-to-day basis. No matter what your opinions politically, we all drink water.”
Shíshálh Nation elder Barb Higgins also spoke, and offered support for the blockade.
“ELF has been trying to protect the forests around here, and we’ve had good things happening. Some parts of the forest have been protected and are protected yet and will remain protected,” she said.
Willard Joe, another prominent ELF supporter from the shíshálh Nation, said he planned to go to the Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) chief and council and ask them to back a moratorium on logging within the watershed.
He also led singing and drumming to mark the occasion, after which ELF’s Ross Muirhead presented Joe with a large photo of a black bear to thank him for supporting the effort.
In an email to Coast Reporter, Muirhead said there was “a bit of a tense stand-off” on the weekend when three trucks arrived at the group’s roadblock, but after some discussion the workers left.
Muirhead said ELF’s lawyer sent a letter to AJB managing director Mark Rogers on Monday. Contacted Thursday by Coast Reporter, Rogers said there had been no change in the situation.
Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) chair Garry Nohr and other board members toured the area Feb. 23 and talked with representatives from AJB and ELF.
Nohr reiterated after the tour that the SCRD has no authority to insist AJB stop work. “We can only negotiate with them [AJB], talk with them and see what they can do,” he pointed out. “There’s only one or two solutions for us and we’re trying to see if we can work on them, one of those being a possible land swap down the line, but I don’t know if even that’s feasible.”
The SCRD and SIB have a joint watershed management agreement, and Nohr also said they’ve had a chance to meet briefly with SIB representatives on the issue, and he anticipates more discussion soon.