Lizzie Bay Logging has given up its rights to log in a controversial area of Blackwater Creek.
A Ministry of Forests and Range spokesperson this week confirmed the company had decided not to harvest timber in tree licence area BL002.
While there are no plans to re-sell the licence at this time, said the spokesperson, it can be re-sold in the future.
That’s good news for the community and the Blackwater Stewardship Group.
The group grabbed headlines close to a year ago when it set up a protest camp near the proposed logging area.
Protesters wanted to save a 17-heactare area where traditional medicinal plants and valuable pine mushrooms were regularly harvested. They claimed that there had not been proper consultation between the residents in the area, the N’Quatqua First Nations band, and B.C. Timber Sales.
“We have started to dialogue with B.C. Timber sales and they have been really open to communicate and hear our concerns and they have expressed their intent to continue to meet with us periodically,” said Blackwater Stewardship Group member Mariko Kage.
“We were able to confirm last Friday that, yes, indeed Lizzie Bay has returned its licence and they do not plan to have any harvesting this spring or summer.”
Kage, while pleased with the development, said it is most likely the result of trouble in the timber industry as a whole, which has seen a steady decline in lumber prices, the downturn in the U.S. housing market and the appreciation of the Canadian dollar.
“We are happy that we were part of delaying the process a little bit to the point where market concerns took over,” said Kage.
“However, BCTS is not removing the block from their plans. But it means we have a little bit more time and what… we have put to B.C. Timber Sales very clearly is that we want nothing short of permanent protection of the area.
“It is part of the local economy. The (government) might think it is miniscule to them but for the people here it is like a community garden.”
Shirley Pietla, a long time mushroom buyer in D’Arcy, has been fighting to keep loggers out of the area since 1991.
“We are working to take it right out of the logging jurisdiction and hopefully we can accomplish that,” she said.
“We are trying to set up meetings with the proper people in government who can take this out of logging jurisdiction once and for all and have it left as the mushroom grounds for the whole community and others.”
The news coincides with the announcement that the Blackwater Stewardship Group will host a potluck dinner Earth Day Celebration at the N’Quatqua Hall in D’Arcy on Friday, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Members of the Western Wilderness Committee will be then to chat about the Blackwater Creek area.
To find out more about the gathering call Kage at 604-452-3588 or Rob at 604-452-3535.