Ecojustice is going to court to challenge at least eight road closures that are preventing scientists from documenting and protecting birds and other species in an area rich in old growth forests and biodiversity.
In 2021, B.C.’s ministry of forests granted road closures throughout Tree Farm Licence 46 (TFL 46) – an area that includes the injunction enforcement area established by the B.C. Supreme Court against protests in the vicinity of Fairy Creek.
After receiving approval to close the roads, Teal Cedar Products Ltd. – the company involved in logging in TFL 46 – installed gates and hired a private security firm to operate them.
Since the granting of these closures, many parts of TFL 46 have been cut off.
By closing access to roads that have been used regularly by the public, the B.C. government has effectively allowed a logging company to turn wide swathes of public lands into private property. The ability of citizen-scientists monitoring, studying, and protecting birds and other species to access the area has been significantly impeded. This includes Ecojustice client Dr. Royann Petrell, Associate Professor Emerita at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Petrell’s work has detected the Western Screech Owl and the Marbled Murrelet in TFL 46 – both listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. Her Western Screech Owl detections prompted the B.C. government to send officials into the area to verify findings.
Dr. Petrell would have increased her efforts to document species in TFL 46 if she had not been denied access due to road closures. She has been denied access on multiple occasions, despite efforts to demonstrate that she is in no way connected to the ongoing blockades. So in March 2022, Ecojustice, representing Dr. Royann Petrell, went to the B.C. Court of Appeals to challenge at least eight road closures granted by the B.C. Ministry of Forests throughout TFL 46. Unfortunately, in February 2023 we lost the appeal as the Court found no reason to interfere with the BC Supreme Court’s discretionary decision to strike the petition.
Ecojustice believes that this decision not only prevents scientists from documenting and protecting birds and other species in an area rich in old growth forests and biodiversity but also curbs legitimate public access to roads on public lands.