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Environmental group threatens boycott of B.C. timber

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Wilderness Committee promises international campaign if South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park is reduced

Andrew Mitchell

With the time ticking down until the provincial government announces the fate of the new parks and special management zones created by Lillooet Land and Resource Management Plan, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee is threatening an international boycott of B.C. forestry products and the 2010 Olympic bid if the park boundaries are reduced.

"Hands off the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park or risk a full-scale boycott of B.C. timber and the 2010 Olympic bid," warned WCWC spokesperson Joy Foy.

The WCWC made the threat in response to a letter from the Ministry of Forests confirming that the logging that is currently taking place in the area is "heavily" subsidized by B.C. taxpayers.

"The fact that we the taxpayers are subsidizing this logging makes it all the more appalling that Sustainable Resource Management Minister Stan Hagen is considering logging the region’s South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park," said Foy.

"We are saying do not open the park to logging and protect the grizzly habitat or we will leave no stone unturned in a full international boycott campaign.

"In our twenty-two year history we have never called for a boycott of B.C. timber but we will advocate a boycott of B.C. timber products if the B.C. government opens up the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park to logging.

"And we will make sure that those considering B.C. as the site for the Winter Olympics know that our provincial government is opening up B.C. parks to logging and mining and destroying critical grizzly bear habitat."

The most recent draft plan released for the area has no special management zones.

I t has also reduced the size of the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park, which was approved in principle by the outgoing NDP party.

Resource-dependent communities in the area asked the Liberal government to overturn the previous plan because the NDP government made its decision without an economic feasibility study.

That study has since been completed, and it supported the conservation option.

But the Liberal government has decided to negotiate park boundaries with resource stakeholders in mind because logging and mining operations were inside the boundaries as laid out in the previous NDP plan.

Tourism, recreation and wildlife values must also be preserved.

The WCWC had more than 27,000 members in 2001 and is one of the largest environmental advocacy groups in Canada.

While they may not go as far as the WCWC, several groups are vocal in their support of the park boundaries and special management zones proposed by the NDP government, including tourism and recreation businesses in the area.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler has sent a letter supporting the park boundaries, but was the only regional government in the area to do so.

The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment has been active in the campaign to preserve the area for almost three years, and is opposed to taxpayers subsidizing logging in an area that many taxpayers would likely prefer to see protected.

Said AWARE director Eckhard Zeidler: "If Victoria wants to open our Parks up for more taxpayer subsidized resource extraction to send a signal that B.C. is open for business – at the expense of the environment – then they’ll get a message from all over British Columbia that our Provincial Park system was not created over decades just to be dismantled."

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