Wednesday December 14, 2011

CRV News

Owl Forest Fight Flares

Penner's office "may be" linked to another controversial CRV decision

Released by Glen Thompson, Friends of CRV/Voice file photos


ast year we were stunned by Barry Pennerís decision to deny an Environmental Assessment of the Larsons Bench open pit gravel mine. MOE officials officials confirmed the decision to stop the assessment was made by Barry Penner himself, at the time he was Minister of the Environment.


Weíve learned that his office may be linked to another controversial decision by MOE that will allow logging inside a Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA). The WHA was set aside for the re-introduction of the Spotted Owl.

The Owl Forest WHA was established to protect one of the last remaining habitats that can support the Spotted Owl. The Owl Forest is an old growth stand of trees located between the community of Post Creek and the Provincial Park. Friends of CRV are concerned because 80% of the biggest trees in the stand, have been exempted from habitat protection by MOE. At a public meeting held last fall Tamihi Logging estimated the "logging the Owl Forest will employ a crew for 2 to 3 weeks."

In 2007, right after the Owl Forest WHA was created, Tamihi logging began negotiating with MOE supposedly because they had lost potential timber rights. Len Blackstock, said at a public meeting held at the CRV Fish & Game Club that the negotiations went on for 3 years and eventually led to MOE exemption orders that allow the company to log the biggest trees in the protected forest.

Chilliwack River Valley stakeholders listen to Minister of Environment Barry Penner and others at a meeting over the gravel pit July 26, 2010. The decision eventually went against them.

3 years is a long time to be negotiating and it appears most likely that Mr. Penner would be involved in the negotiations since he was the Minister responsible*, and the WHA is located in his riding. 3 years is a long time to negotiate what amounts to 2 or 3 weeks work. We wonder if there are more surprises coming.

When Friends of CRV uncovered the exemptions last fall major environmental groups in Vancouver were shocked. The Wilderness Committee has stated *saving the Owl Forest will be a major campaign in 2012. The Committee held a
camp out at the Owl Forest last summer on Canada Day.

All of this comes on the heals of a Forest Practices Board report that criticizes logging companies, for not fully reporting their activities.

Friends of CRV are calling on Mr. Penner to explain his role in these negotiations and the subsequent approval of the exemptions.

Next Tuesday afternoon Friends of CRV are organizing a visit to the Owl Forest WHA to focus attention on this issue. Many local organizations along with the Wilderness Committee from Vancouver are expected to attend. Federal NDP MP Peter Julian has expressed concern for the Owls and has been invited to join us.



11am - meeting with Chilliwack Forest District Manager

1pm - at Penner's office - will ask Penner to explain

1:15 - meet MP Peter Julian in front of Strahl's office

2pm  - arrive post creek (4x4 transport available if you don't have snow tires ) Meet n greet locals and tour owl forest, press conference hopefully with Global TV.


For more information contact Glen Thompson via e-mail here.


Related Links

CRV Stakeholders Speak Out Against Gravel Pit. Story here.



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