UPDATED: Logging crews prevented from working in Clack Creek cutblock

Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) says it has turned back logging crews heading to work in the area known as the Clack Creek Forest.

ELF has been trying to stop the harvest of cutblock A93884, but a BC Supreme Court judge rejected the group’s petition, filed last April with support from West Coast Environmental Law, against the sale of the cutting rights.

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BC Timber Sales (BCTS) awarded the cutblock to a Squamish-based company, Black Mount Logging, the only firm that bid, giving it the right to remove roughly 29,500 cubic metres of timber.

Since the loss of the court challenge, ELF has been calling on Forest Minister Doug Donaldson to offer the company a different area to log. The group also staged “Living Forest Institute” classes in the cutblock and placed more than 1,000 felt hearts on trees in the cutblock.

In an email Jan. 12, ELF said a crew from Black Mount had begun felling trees, calling it “a very sad day for this regional district and our collective community goals … as another key part of the Mt. Elphinstone Park protected zone gets compromised.”

ELF’s Ross Muirhead said when crews returned to the area again Monday morning, “we informed them that we weren’t allowing them to go to work today each time.”

Logging crews did not return Tuesday, according to Muirhead, who added that ELF members at the entrance to the cutblock did get a visit from RCMP.

The group has sent a letter to Donaldson asking the province to stop the logging at Clack Creek and another cutblock, A87126, which it calls the Dakota Bear Sanctuary.

The letter also says, “BCTS was warned many times over that selling [the Clack Creek] block will create uncertainty to the contractor. The reasonable request was made to issue blocks outside of the park expansion area so that two objectives could be met: certainty and connectivity.”

In the Supreme Court decision rejecting ELF’s petition against the cutblock auction, Justice Robert Punnett said the local BCTS manager overseeing the cutblock auction “was alive to the issues and matters to be considered” and acted properly. He said while ELF argued that other blocks, outside the proposed park expansion area, would be more appropriate to offer up for harvesting, “it is contrary to the decision of the Timber Sales Manager… In addition, on May 7, 2018, the province completed an assessment of ELF’s Elphinstone Park Expansion Proposal and concluded the proposal would add limited benefits in terms of the key values identified by the province.”

Punnett also ruled that BCTS has adequately addressed the issue of species at risk.

Black Mount Logging has not yet responded to Coast Reporter’s request for comment.

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