Residents continue to defend their watersheds and promote sustainable forestry.
by Kathy Loxam
Summer of 1999 finds Slocan Val ley residents facing the perils of ongoing logging and road building in many of their consumptive use watersheds and the threat of new logging activities in at least five more. Despite this threat, residents are gearing up for FLOW 99, a major conference in August which will bring together experts and activists from around BC and the US Pacific Northwest.
The conference, to be based in New Denver in the Slocan Valley, August 20-22, intends to examine the current crisis in the woods and to find solutions and alternatives for a brighter future. FLOW 99 (For Love Of Water/ For Love of Our Work) will explore the essential ingredients for creating sustainable models in our communities – models to ensure protection of drinking water, healthy forest ecosystems and ecologically sound, diversified economies. Over 30 key presenters are confirmed.
FLOW 99 will focus on the situation in the Slocan Valley, an area which may be the most studied and best prepared in BC to deal with the conflict between logging and protection of water. It has been the scene of watershed blockades and arrests since 1990 and has lost half its sawmill jobs. The need for a sustainable model has never been more obvious.
Slocan Valley watersheds are formed from creeks flowing down through narrow valleys and steep mountain slopes. Consequences of logging on these slopes include the potential for landslides, sedimentation of the water, increased flow during high water and decreased flow in the summer and fall. The Forest Practices Code offers little, if any, protection to these small fragile mountain creeks.
Driving this destructive logging and road building is the insatiable appetite of the government for revenue from stumpage and Slocan Forest Products (SFP) for profits. But here in the Nelson Forest Region the government loses money from logging. During the last 15 years the taxpayers have lost over half a billion dollars on logging in this region and the estimated 1998 loss of $67 million is the highest it has been since 1985. The vast majority of SFPs profits leave the community with approximately only 5% remaining in the form of wages [Valhalla Wilderness Society, Public Information Bulletin No. 34, June 29, 1999].
Court cases continue from actions taken 2 summers ago. The government is proceeding on a lawsuit for trespass against 5 Perry Ridge residents. A separate action appealing the jailing of other defendants on an injunction that has previously been overturned is also proceeding. Meanwhile, preparations are underway to challenge SFPs SLAPP suit against 12 people from the New Denver Flats protest.
Living in fear of landslides from the mountains above, fear of the loss of their drinking water and also watching the destruction of the local environment has fueled water users to work for changes to the status quo logging. It has also fueled massive protests, demonstrations and arrests in an attempt to stop the destruction of the Valleys watersheds.
After 18 years of struggling to protect water, the Slocan Valley Watershed Alliance and local watershed groups do not intend to give up. Silva Forest Founda tions Ecosystem-based Landscape plan provides real solutions to the crisis the Slocan Valley is in right now. Implementation of this plan would protect the environment through sustainable resource use and also provide for long term employment. Silvas approach to forest use will be a highlight of FLOW 99.
*For information on the conference contact Stephan Martineau, (250)355-2206 or email@example.com.
*For general information: Slocan Valley Watershed Alliance, (250)359-7185 or firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.watertalk.org
[From WS August/September 1999]