ELF sets up new protest camp, wins backing from Sierra Club

Logging

Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) is making another effort to stop, or at least delay, the auctioning of a BC Timber Sales (BCTS) cutblock on the slopes of Mount Elphinstone.

Block A87125 is in the area ELF calls “Twist and Shout Forest.” It’s also within the boundaries of what the group is hoping will someday become an expanded Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park.

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ELF’s Ross Muirhead told Coast Reporter a 24/7 camp was set up last weekend on an old spur road that accesses the cutblock. He said the group plans to hold events at what they’ve dubbed “Elphinstone Forest Protection Camp” throughout the summer.

The group has backing from Sierra Club BC, which issued a statement Wednesday calling for the province to “rescind the auctioning of this cutblock and commence a comprehensive park expansion/connectivity implementation process through engagement with the Squamish and shíshálh nations and local communities.”

ELF was instrumental in getting BCTS to delay the auction of the cutblock last year.

In a Factsheet published May 18, the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) said, “A87125 comprises second-growth forest on Mount Elphinstone, and specific measures incorporated into the design of A87125 that go above and beyond legal requirements include: buffering a popular mountain bike trail from harvest; placing additional setbacks on streams; and retaining veteran Douglas-fir trees that survived historical fire and logging.”

FLNRO also notes that “the province has no plans to expand the existing park,” and it’s been talking with First Nations, local governments and community groups since it added A87125 to its harvesting plan.

ELF released a statement just before setting up the protest camp, quoting a 2015 study it commissioned from biologist Wayne McCrory that concluded the area is worth preserving.

“If this cutblock is allowed to proceed it will take out approximately 30 hectares [74 acres] of prime older forests that’s already in between two former cutblocks,” ELF’s Hans Penner said in the statement. “We encouraged BCTS to look to the north outside the 2,000 hectare [4,942 acre proposed park expansion] across the Sechelt-Dakota Forest Service Road where harvesting can take place in actual tree farms. This reasonable request has been met with silence.”

The public comment period on the cutblock auction ended April 18, and the bidding is scheduled to end June 3. According to FLNRO, the successful bidder will have 11 months to start logging before the licence expires.

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