VANCOUVER – Lawyers from Ecojustice, representing the Wilderness Committee today called on B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman to rescind a 2014 Parks Use Permit that allows logging trucks to travel through a section of Manning Park, or face possible court action.
“Are B.C.’s environmental laws so weak that they allow logging trucks in parks? The former minister of environment apparently thought so,” said Devon Page, executive director of Ecojustice. “We’re asking the current B.C. government to do the right thing and protect the amazing Manning and Skagit wilderness, failing which we’ll turn to the courts.”
This action today is all part of the escalating war in the woods over a logging operation in the middle of two of B.C.’s most popular provincial parks — Manning and Skagit Valley.
The logging is being carried out by the B.C. government’s own logging operation, BC Timber Sales within a 3,000 ha area nicknamed “the Manning Park Donut Hole.” The Donut Hole is covered by a mineral tenure and is completely surrounded by parklands.
“I flew over the area yesterday and what I saw was maddening,” said Joe Foy, co-executive director of the Wilderness Committee. “Two clearcuts have been logged with two more planned. Conservationists have long wanted to add the Donut Hole to the parks system once the existing mineral tenure can be bought out. We’re not willing to stand by while this beautiful wildland is clear-cut by the province’s own logging operation. The logging must stop now.”
The only way for the loggers to get in and for the logs to get out is through a 2 km wide swath of Manning Park forest land. In 2014, a Parks Use Permit was issued by the environment minister of the day allowing the logging trucks to access the Donut Hole through Manning Park. But research by conservation groups including the Wilderness Committee, Ecojustice and West Coast Environmental Law confirms the Parks Use Permit should never have been issued in the first place.
Skagit Valley Provincial Park was created following negotiations between British Columbia and Seattle, which prevented the region from being flooded by a dam south of the border.
“It is surprising that BC Timber Sales is logging in the Skagit River watershed when B.C. signed an international agreement in 1984 that was meant to protect that watershed,” said Erica Stahl, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law. “BC Timber Sales’ clearcutting in the Skagit watershed goes against the spirit of the agreement, negotiated by B.C. itself to protect this beautiful area for future generations.”