Thursday, January 19, 2012

SRD serves notice to logging Protesters, public rally planned for Sunday

Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice

At approximately 1:30 pm today, January 19, Alberta's Sustainable Resource Development Department (SRD) issued and posted a Notice of Development.  In part, it reads "Notice is hereby given that no person is authorized to access or occupy the following public lands without authority pursuant to the Public Lands Act."  New regulations were passed last September as part of the Land Use Framework for regional planning in Alberta.

Protesters continue to picket around the clock at the site where
logging is to begin in the Castle Special Management Area

C. Davis photos

This is the ninth day of non-stop picketing by area citizens, who are for the most part members of the Stop Castle Logging Group and the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, and are opposed to clear-cut logging in the Castle Special Management Area referred to in the notice and on the map that accompanied it. The protesters have sought, so far successfully, to prevent Spray Lake Sawmills/Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd. from running its equipment, which is currently located at the site of the protest, and which is intended to bulldoze new roads to facilite the planned clear-cut operation.

The notice also says, in part "Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd. will begin development of lands.. within 90 days of this notice." 

Interview with organizer Peter Sherrington:

Peter Sherrington is one of the protest organizers.  He said their lawyer would be giving them a legal opinion of what their options are tomorrow, January 20. "We're not sure what appeal process there is, it was not done through a court order," Sherrington explained.  "I'm not sure any of us know what the implications of this are."

"We are committed to not breaking the law, but we're not quite clear what the law is at this time, and so we may actually be testing that law," he continued.

CTV`s Alesia Fieldberg reporting from the scene
C. Davis photo

Development Notice
Protester Diana Calder was present when the SRD representatives arrived with the notice. "There were five of them and they were being very aggressive. They said 'you can get out of here now' and I said 'Or what?' They had cameras and everything.  They said 'We want all your details'.  I said 'You've got that already'. We just felt uncomfortable," Calder said.

Mike Judd has been on site almost constantly over the last nine days. "The critical thing about it is, according to this notice, they can charge any person with trespassing within 100 metres either side of the roadway that they described here," he said, referring to the map accompanying the notice. "It would actually include where we're standing and right across the highway to the other side of the highway.  So in other words, it's sweeping powers to keep anyone away fom the logging development," he said. Referring to the possible legal implications of continuing to protest at the site, Judd said "I think it's pretty much an individual decision now whether people want to accept this one or not."

C. Davis photo

The notice includes a warning seemingly aimed squarely at those ocupying the protest and small tent/camp nearby, which reads "Take notice that persons who occupy public land and are not authorized to do so are deemed trespassers pursuant to section 47(1) of the Public Lands Act and any improvements created by those persons are property of the Crown."

Public rally planned for Sunday, January 22
A large rally is planned by the protesters for Sunday, January 22, starting at 2 pm.  "Where it will be will depend on our legal advice," said Peter Sherrington.  A decision on a location is expected tomorrow, and the Voice will inform people as the situation develops.  Sherrington and Judd emphasized that anyone was welcome to attend, and musicians are invited to bring their instruments. "We're hoping to have a big crowd of people here,"  said Judd.

The Castle Special Management Area is listed on a government website as a Special Place Protected Area (link), which the Alberta Cabinet designated in 1998 "for the preservation of Alberta's natural heritage" (link).

"We're goiong to be here from the morning to night, to fight fight fight against the dying of our right to protect the wilderness." - Protester Michael Cameron

Note: It would be appreciated in the future if permission is asked before images taken by Voice staff are used by other media outlets, as said photos are actually our copyrighted  property.  We expect proper credit for such use, and retain the right of refusal for such use as well.

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