Concerned citizens met with forestry executives at an environmental demonstration at Grand Forks’ Gyro Park Friday afternoon, March 19. The demonstration was part of a wider movement organized in partnership with ForestMarch BC, whose website called on British Columbians to “unite and demand a new forest framework that fosters healthier ecosystems.”
Picketers from the Boundary Forest Watershed Stewarship Society (BFWSS) lined Central Avenue, holding signs calling for sustainable logging practices in the region. Similar demonstrations were held in Nelson, Creston, Vernon and other communities across the province, according to ForestMarch BC.
“We’re here because we’re at a tipping point and they’re not stopping,” Angelica Herlihy said as trucks laden with timber and lumber drove past. Some drivers honked their air-horns, drawing cheers from the picketers.
BFWSS president Roy Schiesser said the group was concerned about “changes to the landscape” he said will be documented in the society’s upcoming report on the long-term regional effects of provincial logging guidelines. Standing next to Interfor’s Dave Parsons and Jamie Hibberson, who manage the company’s lumber mill in Grand Forks and its area re-forestation programs, Schiesser said that Premier John Horgan had recently made “a lot of talk” about sustainable forestry.
“But, is he going to get us anywhere?”, Scheisser asked.
Hibberson said he and Parsons had come to hear the demonstrators’ concerns.
“We tend to operate in silos, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing,” he said.
Hibberson noted that “forest management is a very complicated process,” noting that Interfor’s harvesting practices meet the province’s legislative framework. “Nothing we do is outside of that framework,” he stressed.
Interfor would probably not harvest less timber from Boundary forests than what the province allows every year, he said. “If we undercut, the province would most likely offer that volume to another licensee,” he said.
Hibberson said he thought current logging practices are sustainable across the Boundary. “There’s no way that we’re going to have trouble re-foresting … but people with environmental concerns would say that the forests we put back are different,” he explained.
Interfor is designing “a small project” to re-plant endangered white bark pine seedlings across harvested cutblocks in the Boundary, he said.