Monday, January 23, 2012

Castle logging protesters receive "Trespasser Declaration" from SRD, vow to stay put

  • Tents declared property of Crown

SRD representatives issue
Trespasser Declaration

C. Davis photos/video
Protesters at the site of  logging machines poised to begin strip-logging a section of forest just west of Beaver Mines are continuing to occupy the area despite today receiving a "Trespasser Declaration" from the Government of Alberta's Sustainable Resources Department (SRD).  The protesters have erected three tents  near and  in the way of the logging machines. One of those tents has been on the site since before the machines arrived, according to to its owner, protester Mike Judd.

People in Beaver Mines started to notice increased SRD presence in their small community during the early afternoon of Monday, January 23.  By early evening the declaration was issued in person by SRD representatives, one of which was videotaping the encounter.  Another was telling the protesters that their tents and other possessions at the site were now confiscated and rendered Crown property. Copies of the declaration were pinned to trees next to each tent as well.

Protesters are told their on-site property has been confiscated by the Crown
In part, this declaration, signed by SRD's Lands Management Branch Lands Division Executive Director Jeff Reynolds, states "Effective immediately, pursuant to section 47(2) of the PLA (Public Lands Act - Ed.), I am authorizing SRD staff to remove, demolish, sell or otherwise dispose of any improvements associated with the trespass."

"If this logging goes ahead... there's going to be a lot of people that are going to be very unhappy, certainly there's going to be a lot of media attention and there's going to be a lot of legal attention," said Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition President Gordon Petersen to the SRD officials. "We've got lots of lawyers working on it now, so if these trees start coming down there's going to be big trouble for your government, and I mean legal trouble and media trouble."

Protester Mike Judd asked for time to seek legal guidance.

The SRD officer apparently in charge of enforcing SRD's declaration was not to be swayed by that request. "Mike, we extended the first courtesy, you know, for quite a few days now, with the official notice there, that was a lot of time there that you have had..." he said.  "You should have been able to seek counsel or some guidance there, and now the next step is that, effective immediately, these resources are now the property of the Crown... but I am here as an officer representing them, that, if you were to immediately start cleaning up, I would say go ahead.  If you're not and you're just going to let it sit then I have to go back and report that nothing has been done,nothing has been taken down, so it is now officially Crown property."

The SRD representatives left and the protesters remained at the site, determined to continue their fight.  "We expect SRD will be back perhaps mid-morning to try and evict us," said Petersen. "I'm not planning to move my tent, just for your record," said Judd.  "I feel I have every right as a member of the public to be camping on this what is called unoccupied land in the Act.  That I was actually here before that logging equipment arrived, and I plan to spend the duration of the time that I'm allow to do that here, and that I simply do not plan to move for the logging show."

A protester's tent at the site of proposed logging, now declared
property of the Crown by SRD

C. Davis photo

An SRD public relations representative on site during the delivery of the declaration was asked by me for a statement or an interview, but he refused, instead giving me the card of an SRD Public Affairs Officer.  Given the late hour, that individual was unreachable before this article was written.

A scan of the SRD Trespasser Declaration:

Update from Stop Castle Logging's Facebook page:

"At the same location as the Premier's Alberta Cabinet Tour luncheon in Lethbridge on Tuesday, January 24 and just prior to that luncheon, representatives of more than two-dozen businesses ranging from a national retailer and local businesses in the outdoor recreation and tourism sector to a nursery specializing in native plants and photographers will hold a press conference over the impact of clear-cutting the Castle on local businesses. Not mere speculation, they will have an example of other such impacts from the mid 1980s, and a more recent one. A printed press release will be available at the press conference.
 The collection of businesses wrote the new Premier last October asking for an immediate deferral of the logging and requesting a meeting with the Premier to enable them to put forward the business case for upholding the government's decision to designate the Castle as a Special Place protected area, instead of clear-cutting its recreation centre.


  1. Anonymous24/1/12

    I'm amazed, but really pleased that you guys were Johnny on the spot, recording the on-site January 23rd meeting between protesters and forestry folk.

    Its a good reference video and indisputable record of an event that has a lot of public importance.

    Too bad the "mass" media missed it, but hats off to you. Everyone should take-ten minutes and a peak at this video.


  2. Thanks for the positive comments Mike. We're doing our best to be where the news is. On the plus side, CTV will probably be using some of that footage in their newscast tonight, which will spread your message to a broader market.

  3. Anonymous24/1/12

    if you look at the damage the random campers are doing what is the differance .the fishing and landscape were being distroyed anyway

  4. Anonymous25/1/12

    (Thanks for the tip on CTV coverage. That was good. And if you get a chance will you please change my peak to "peek?" It wasn't meant to be a play on words; my mind musta been in the mountains.)

    I agree with the comment on damage from random camping. It seems its steadily worsened since the province banned it in K-Country years ago.

    Some of these "campers" act as if they own lakefront property, encroaching on streams and rivers and leaving their rigs in one spot, often unattended, for MONTHS at a time.

    Last year one guy used a weed whacker and lawnmower to landscape his campsite along the West Castle. Guess it was under the auspices of fire control.



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