Coalition continues fight against logging near Pincher Creek

An environmental group has triggered a judicial review against the Alberta government’s decision to allow logging in the Castle-Crown area west of Pincher Creek.

Spray Lakes Sawmills’ clear-cut operation began logging in February 2012. Coalition president Gordon Petersen says after onsite protestors were removed by court order the group decided bringing the fight to court was the logical next step.

“We felt [the removal of protestors] had really forced our hand” says Petersen. “So we started working on it from about that point and we just recently got all our ducks in a row and we’re ready to go ahead with it.”

The issue centres on long-standing disagreements between environmental groups and the provincial government over the classification of the Castle-Crown. The Coalition claims that since the province named the area a Special Place in 1998 the public had a reasonable expectation that it would be protected from commercial logging.

The court application also says the public was not properly consulted before new logging concessions were given for the Castle-Crown and “that the mandate of the government to protect other values such as water wildlife recreation and the local tourism economy isn’t being considered in allowing logging to proceed.”

Petersen says the logging project’s first season has already come and gone but believes there is a strong chance the judicial review will halt the project before cutting restarts next winter.

“They have gone in they’ve built a road. They have cut quite a few trees” says Petersen of the logging site. “They’re not cutting at all now and they’re waiting for the road to dry out before they haul the logs…. It’s certainly only the beginning of what they’re planning.”