By Andrea Germanos
Environmental and indigenous groups are cheering after Kinder Morgan announced Sunday it was halting most work on its controversial Trans Mountain expansion pipeline project, citing continuing opposition.
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The Wilderness Committee is joining local residents to sound the alarm about cutting permits which could be issued any day for logging near Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, in a Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA) that is supposed to be set aside for the critically endangered spotted owl.
“I’m horrified that the provincial government is considering allowing logging to proceed in the habitat of a critically endangered species,” said Gwen Barlee, policy director with the Wilderness Committee. “We join with concerned local residents in saying that this logging must not proceed—there must be no cutting in this spotted owl habitat.”
Nearby residents were surprised to find out that Tamihi Logging applied for a logging permit late last week. Tamihi had previously told people logging wouldn’t happen until May 2012. But now the permits, according to staff at the Chilliwack Forest District, are set to be issued this week. The area was set aside as a WHA in 2011 to protect it as spotted owl habitat.
There are now thought to be less than 10 spotted owls in the wild in British Columbia (BC). Both the BC and federal governments have pledged to bring the Canadian population of spotted owls back from the brink of elimination. “This is how you log a species into extinction, not bring it back from the edge. It’s incredibly irresponsible to even consider allowing logging of habitat that was specifically set aside for the protection of the spotted owl,” said Barlee.
“If this logging goes ahead, it will further fragment spotted owl habitat,” said Barlee. “The provincial government has committed to restoring spotted owl populations, and the only way they can honour their own policy is by putting a halt to this logging—now.”
Local residents are monitoring the situation, watching for activity in the cutblocks.
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