Rally for better forest management to take place Friday morning

Photo Taryn Skalbania

Joanne Layh

On Friday, Sept. 18 Forest March BC members in 16 communities across the province will march in support of changing current forest policy.

In Peachland, the event is scheduled to begin at noon at the visitor centre on Beach Avenue and conclude at Heritage Park at 1:30 p.m.

The event is expected to include speeches and marching with signs to raise awareness.

Forest March BC says it is a “province-wide, grass-roots campaign aimed at creating a unified voice to tell the government that B.C. residents want forestry reform”.

The group is asking the province for forest legislation reform to ensure ecosystem health is a top priority (including protecting old growth), formal involvement of frontline communities in the management of public land and the prohibition of private corporations from having any level of authority over public land.

The event is being co-organized by Jennifer Houghton, who experienced the May 2018 flood that devastated Grand Forks, and Taryn Skalbania, a vocal member of the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance (PWPA), a local group that attributes soil erosion resulting in undrinkable water and flood conditions to the impacts of industrial activity on Peachland’s watershed.

Houghton wants people to rally for changes to forestry legislation, so there are no more losses like she and her neighbours suffered.

“We need to unite communities to press the B.C. government to build a new forest framework that respects nature and Indigenous systems and gives decision-making power to communities and creates more local jobs,” Houghton said.

“The problems with forest management in British Columbia have gone from bad to worse, as what little old growth forest that remains continues to be logged at unsustainable rates. Former forestry-dependent communities are reeling as mills are shuttered, jobs lost, whole logs are exported, water supplies are trashed and floods and landslides destroy homes and livelihoods,” Alex Morrison, PWPA communications chair said.

Morrison says people are fed up and see this protest as one way to get the message out to the wider public.

The PWPA hope the rally will activate the community to get involved, not just for the march, but to become ongoing advocates for the community watershed and forests.

“As Peachlanders, we love our wilderness. It’s why many of us moved here,” Morrison said. “Our water, our health and our town deserve better.”

Skalbania says that while they’d like to engage with many residents, with COVID protocols limiting groups to under 50, if over 50 people show up they have crowd control plans in place and will start a second rally or group of 50 away from the first.

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