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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cortes Island flotilla says “Island Timberlands Shall Not Pass

Friday, Dec 14, 2012 (Cortes Island, BC) Today at 12pm, Cortes Island residents will be forming a water blockade at the mouth of the Gorge Harbour, a narrow passageway that is the marine access to Island Timberlands’ log dump – the location from which they would barge in machinery and ship raw logs off of the island. This festive floating demonstration called, “Operation Log Jam,” is in response to Island Timberlands (I.T.) industrial logging plans, which have been a growing concern in the community for over four years.

“This mock naval blockade is our way of showing Island Timberlands and their potential contractors, that local residents have the capacity and will to stop heavy equipment from passing through this vital waterway,” community activist Zoë Miles explains. Local residents are concerned both about ecological damage and the loss of potential long-term employment for this remote community. Standing exclusively to profit from these plans are I.T.’s corporate shareholders, which include the global real estate giant, Brookfield Asset Management and the BC Investment Management Corporation, the pension fund for provincial employees. Further complicating the Cortes Island impasse are global investment forces such as the China Investment Corporation (CIC), which is interested in purchasing 12.5% of Island Timberlands shares.

At stake are some of the last 1% of old-growth Coastal Douglas-fir forests, a number of documented threatened species, and provincially designated sensitive ecosystems. Also at stake is a local and provincial economy that could use the long-term forestry jobs – but I.T.’s industrial forestry model employs only for the short term, while shipping most of their logs raw to Asian markets.

Residents are advocating for local stewardship of these forests, which would be maintained according to eco-forestry practices, and they are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that an acceptable solution is reached. According to islander and blockade participant Ben Howells, “We have the social capital and expertise to make this happen and we are letting Island Timberlands know that this is more than just another ‘war in the woods’. This is an opportunity for them to be pioneers in the field forestry by using Cortes as a model for local long-term employment and ecosystem based management.”

From the voices on the water in the heart of the Gorge Harbour, Cortes Islanders are letting the company know that their shores are closed for the holiday season and that “Island Timberlands shall not pass.”

Boat transport is available for media persons wishing to visit the flotilla event.

For more information, please contact:
Ben Howells, Cortes community member and water blockade participant – (250) 650-5447, eliahben@hotmail.com
Zoe Miles, Cortes-raised forest activist – (778) 877-0979, zoe.sitka@gmail.com
Mike Moore, island resident and water blockade participant – (250) 935-6756, mistyis@island.net

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November 28, 2012 (Cortes Island, BC)

For Immediate Release: 

Will logging of ancient forest be halted before it can begin?

Residents of Cortes Island have formed a blockade to stop the BC based timber company, Island Timberlands (I.T.), from beginning logging operations in one of BC’s last stands of old growth coastal Douglas-fir forest. For over four years, community members have attempted to work with the company to develop an ecosystem-based approach to forestry. As road-building equipment moves in, the community is now left with no choice but to stand in it’s path to defend these ecologically significant forests.

Yesterday, Island Timberlands trucks were stopped at a logging road gate by two protesters lying on the ground. Company personnel filmed the protesters, likely in preparation for an application for a civil injunction. The protesters did not respond to their questions and community members remained on the site until the end of the day.

Adjacent landowners were among the community members present. One couple explained that they have a water license on Basil Creek which runs through Island Timberlands’ property. I.T. plans to log in the riparian area and within 30 feet of the wetland that feeds the salmon-bearing creek. They wrote to Morgan Kennah, Island Timberland’s Manager for Community Affairs, stating their concerns about water supply and contamination. “I thought I would get a letter from Morgan assuring me that my water supply would be safe,” the landowner stated, “but that never happened. I got no response.” Another community member showed up with Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree to lighten the protesters’ spirits.

Leah Seltzer explained the situation in this way, “People are here because they want to make it known that the industrial forestry model doesn’t work for local communities and it doesn’t work for the province. Island Timberlands will destroy ecologically sensitive ecosystems and leave nothing beneficial in its wake. We will be left with devastated ecosystems, a contaminated water supply and no long-term jobs. All the benefit is going to people who live far away and who aren’t aware of the cost of their profits to our community and our province.”

The threatened lands contain some of the last 1% of old-growth Coastal Douglas-fir forests, and, according to Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA), are some of the most extensive stands remaining in the endangered “Dry Maritime” forests along BC’s southern coast. The forests also contain a number of documented threatened species and sensitive ecosystems.

At this time, I.T. has contracted several local workers but these jobs will only provide short-term employment. More than 60% of I.T.’s raw logs are shipped out of the province to be processed overseas. Standing exclusively to profit are I.T.’s corporate shareholders, which include Brookfield Asset Management and the BC Investment Management Corporation, the pension fund for provincial employees.

While I.T. claims to use sustainable forestry practices, long-time forest activist and Cortes Island land-owner, Tzeporah Berman, warns us not to be fooled: “The majority of their logging is traditional clearcut logging with devastating ecological implications that result in either a change of land use or a dramatically weakened and simplified ecosystem. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) that Island Timberlands touts does not ensure strong environmental standards and has little support from First Nations or environmental organizations.”

Cortes resident and Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler agrees. “There’s no excuse for industrial-scale logging in these times,” he says. “Forward-looking and economically-viable alternatives exist that are based on community health and ecosystem health. Island Timberlands’ plans are a step backwards. Cortes Island is moving forward.” Residents have sought Island Timberland’s participation in this kind of forestry model but have been met with disregard.

Community members hope that the situation will not escalate, and that I.T. will recognize that Cortes holds a rare opportunity to work with a willing community to create a forestry model that benefits everyone. Until then, islanders will be standing in the way of the equipment, and keeping a close eye on any further signs of I.T. activity on the island.

Several participants are available for comment.

For more information, please contact: (Please be advised, there is limited cell phone service on the island but we will respond to your calls as soon as possible.)

Media Liasons:

Leah Seltzer, Educator, Cortes resident – (250) 935-6374, (778) 320-8789, leah.seltzer@gmail.com

Zoe Miles, Cortes-raised activist – (778) 877-0979, zoe.sitka@gmail.com

Community Contacts:

Dennis Mense, Biologist – (250) 935-6467, mense@telus.net

Cec Robinson, Oyster Farmer – 1-800-314-1126, (250) 935-6428, ccrobinson999@gmail.com

Carrie Saxifrage, Cortes homeowner, Journalist – (604) 708-8220, (604) 781-3557, carrie@saxifrages.org

Rick Bockner, Woodworker, Musician, Long-time Resident – (250) 935-6792, rickbockner@gmail.com

Amy Bockner, Third-generation Cortes resident, Co-op Café Manager, (250) 935-6850, amybockner@gmail.com

Rex Weyler, Greenpeace Co-founder, Cortes Resident – (250) 935-0005, rexweyler1@gmail.com

Bill Wheeler, Carpenter, Orchardist, Long-time Resident – (250) 935-6384, mcbw@twincomm.ca

Lovena Harvey, Business Owner & Parent – (250) 935-0323, lovena@gatheringplacetrading.com

Mike Moore, Marine Tourism Operator – (250) 935-6756, mistyis@island.net

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March 1, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Environmentalists Call for a BC Park Acquisition Fund and for Island Timberlands to Back Off until Contentious Lands can be Purchased for Protection

A provincial fund is needed similar to those of regional districts for acquiring private lands for new parks.

Conservationists are standing in solidarity today calling on coastal logging giant Island Timberlands to back off from their plans to log forests with high recreational and environmental values, including old-growth forests and sensitive ecosystems, while calling on the BC government to help purchase the company’s contentious private lands.

At McLaughlin Ridge near Port Alberni, on Cortes Island near Campbell River, at Stillwater Bluffs by Powell River, at Cathedral Grove Canyon adjacent to McMillan Provincial Park, and at the Cameron Valley Firebreak near Port Alberni, Island Timberlands’ corporate private lands include some of the most contentious forests of high conservation value in British Columbia – old-growth forests, sensitive ecosystems, and mature second-growth forests of high recreational value.

Conservationists are calling on the provincial government to establish a BC Park Acquisition Fund of at least $40 million per year, raising $400 million over 10 years, to purchase old-growth forests and other endangered ecosystems on private lands across the province. The fund would be similar to the park acquisition funds of various regional districts in BC which are augmented by the fundraising efforts of private citizens and land trusts.

“Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government must step forward with a funding solution, a BC Park Acquisition Fund similar to those of many regional districts, to purchase old-growth forests, sensitive ecosystems, and other important areas on private lands for protection – particularly Island Timberlands’ contentious lands,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder. “At the same time, Island Timberlands needs put the brakes on their plans to log the last old-growth stands and contentious areas until those lands can be purchased for protection.”

“There has been an incredible amount of public pressure about the situation on Cortes, which I think is a major factor in Island Timberlands’ recent decision to postpone their logging plans for 6 months,” says forest activist Zoe Miles, who grew up on Cortes Island. “It’s a temporary victory, but it does give us more time to raise funds for land purchase. If Island Timberlands is genuinely willing to consider land sale at fair market value, then it’s the responsibility of our provincial government to listen to its electorate and help make that happen.”

“Stillwater Bluffs has been identified as a priority parcel for protection as a regional park by the Powell River Regional District. It contains sensitive ecosystems and veteran old-growth trees and is a popular area used by local people for recreation,” said Jason Addy of the Friends of Stillwater Bluffs. “It is a no-brainer for a new park and Island Timberlands needs to stay away until the lands can be purchased at fair market value.”

Many regional districts in BC, such as the Capital, Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley, Strathcona, and Powell River Regional Districts have park acquisition funds to protect lands of high ecological and recreational value. The Capital Regional District’s (CRD) Land Acquisition Fund has spent over $34 million dollars to purchase over 4500 hectares of land around Victoria since its establishment in the year 2000. See http://www.crd.bc.ca/parks/preservation/newparks.htm and http://www.crd.bc.ca/media/2010/2010-01-13-land-acq-fund.htm . The CRD fund is raised through an average $14-per-household levy (increasing to $20-per-household by 2015) each year, raising roughly $3 million per year between 2010 to 2019, and has been pivotal for protecting lands of high environmental and/or recreational value at Jordan River, the Sooke Hills, the Sooke Potholes, lands adjacent to Thetis Lake Park, and at Burgoyne Bay on Salt Spring Island.

Island Timberlands (IT) is the second largest private landowner in BC, owning 258,000 hectares of private lands ( http://www.islandtimberlands.com/our-company/our-present.htm) mainly on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and Haida Gwaii.

Some of the most contentious sites on Island Timberlands’ private lands include:

Cortes Island – IT owns about 1000 hectares of land on this northern Gulf Island, including the Children’s Forests, Whaletown Commons, and extremely rare old-growth “dry maritime” forests at Basil Creek and the Green Valley. As a result of community pressure, the company has temporarily backed off from plans to log on the Island until September, while the community submits ecological inventory information and proposals to the company. For more info contact Zoe Miles at wildstands.press@gmail.com See the spectacular photo gallery at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos.php?gID=12

Stillwater Bluffs – IT owns a 48 hectare dry maritime forest by Powell River which contains a rugged stretch of dramatic coastline. It is accessible to the public and offers rock bluffs, hiking trails, and unspoiled wildlife habitat that is perfect for a nature park. It is heavily used by local people and could be the local residents’ version of West Vancouver’s famous Lighthouse Park. The parcel, known as DL 3040, includes sensitive ecosystems of arbutus/rocky outcrops, second-growth Douglas fir and cedar of high community recreation and scenic value, and scattered old-growth “veteran” trees. The Powell River Regional District has expressed an interest in protecting the Stillwater Bluffs as a park. Local citizens say that Island Timberlands has committed to not log the Stillwater Bluffs within the next 6 months, but plan log it within 2 years. For more info contact Jason Addy at jasonaddy@hotmail.com

McLaughlin Ridge – IT owns about 500 hectares (about 100 hectares of which they’ve logged in recent years) of critical old-growth wintering habitat for black-tailed deer and nesting and foraging habitat of the endangered Queen Charlotte Goshawk in this section of the China Creek watershed near Port Alberni. This area was previously classified as a Wildlife Habitat Area and Old-Growth Management Area until the BC Liberal government removed Weyerhaeuser’s (now Island Timberlands) private forest lands on Vancouver Island from their Tree Farm License in 2004. So far IT is still planning to move ahead and log this area in the near future. For more info contact Jane Morden at janemorden@gmail.com See the spectacular photo gallery of photos by the AFA’s TJ Watt at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos.php?gID=10

Cathedral Grove Canyon and the Cameron Valley Firebreak – IT owns old-growth and second-growth forests adjacent to the famed Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park near Port Alberni, including the spectacular Cathedral Grove Canyon along the Cameron River where giant old-growth Douglas firs and red cedars stand. A public outcry about the marking of these old-growth trees for potential logging seems to have put a hold on the company’s logging plans. Further up the Cameron Valley is the “Cameron Valley Firebreak”, one of the last major tracts of old-growth forest left in the valley that local communities recently learned is also being targeted for logging by IT. For more info contact Annette Tanner at wcwcqb@shaw.ca See an incredible photo gallery of Cathedral Grove Canyon at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos.php?gID=14

The Ancient Forest Alliance is also calling on the BC government to implement a Provincial Old-Growth Strategy to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests, to ensure sustainable second-growth forestry, and to ban raw log exports to foreign mills.

For more info contact:

Ken Wu – Ancient Forest Alliance: 250-514-9910

Zoe Miles – Wildstands (Cortes Island campaign): 778-877-0979 or wildstands.press@gmail.com

Jason Addy – Friends of the Stillwater Bluffs (Powell River): 604-483-6973or jasonaddy@hotmail.com

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January 9, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Petition with 6000 signatures calling for Island Timberlands and Brookefield Assett Management to Ban Clearcutting and Protect Cortes Island Old Growth to be Delivered to offices in Nanaimo, Victoria, Toronto, London, New York, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro.

Thursday January 12th, 2012 (Victoria and Nanaimo, BC)

Cortes Island may be a small island, but it is proving to have a loud and far reaching voice when it comes to protecting its forests. Nearly six thousand people have signed their names to a globally coordinated petition to stop industrial logging from going ahead on Cortes Island, BC. In forty eight hours, these petitions will be delivered to the offices of Brookfield Asset Management and Island Timberlands in  New York, London, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Toronto, and Nanaimo. It will also be delivered tothe  BC Investment Management Corporation office in Victoria, which is also a major investor in  Island Timberlands.

Cortes Island is under threat from established global forest liquidators Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) and their west coast subsidiary Island Timberlands (IT), who have informed the community of plans to begin the clearcutting of large amounts of forests, including very rare coastal Douglas-fir old growth, starting as early as the end of January. Inadequate regulation of privately owned forest land in BC has paved the way for the company behind the eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protestors from New York’s Zuccotti Park (which they also own) to industrially log the rare old growth forests of Cortes, despite rising community concern and opposition.

Essentially, the last one per cent of old growth forest is being liquidated for the wealthiest one per cent of global shareholders. Despite IT’s public relations promises, no meaningful dialogue has yet occurred with the real stakeholders, the people who live on Cortes Island, prompting several concerned community members to start a petition to call on IT to show true leadership and to ban clearcutting and ensure the protection of sensitive ecosystems and watersheds on the island.

What: Community Members and allies deliver Cortes Island Petition to Island Timberlands
When: Thursday January 12th, 1pm
Where:
Nanaimo: Island Timberlands Limited Partnership Corporate Office, 4th Floor, 65 Front Street, Nanaimo, BC
Victoria: BC Investment Management Corporation, 2940 Jutland Road #3  Victoria, BC
Who: Concerned Cortes Island Community Members and Allies

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For More Information, please contact:
Zoe Miles: 778-877-0979, wildstands.press@gmail.com Nanaimo delivery and international event
Carrie Saxifrage: 604-708-8220, for inquiries about the petition and Nanaimo delivery
George Sirk: 250 812 7400, Victoria delivery , Past Cortes Island Regional Director and Naturalist
Sabina Leader-Mense: 250-653-9230, forest biologist and Cortes resident

Deliveries of the petition to the offices of Brookefield Assett Management will also be taking place in Toronto, New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney throughout the day. For more information on these events and to reach our global contacts, please contact Zoe Miles at 778-877-0979.

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