As the country celebrates National Forest Week, an example of the struggle between conservation, control and economics surrounding our forests is poised to take centre stage in our area.
Last Friday a group of First Nations stopped equipment from going into an area about 50 kilometres from Lee’s Corner toward Nemiah Valley.
According to Chief Russell Myers Ross, the protesters are fueled by frustrations over what they see as over harvesting and also a special family attachment to the area under threat of being logged.
This blockade was swiftly joined by another blockade Monday at the junction of the 2800 and 3200 Roads near Tolko’s Meadow Camp.
Between the two blockades, which are reported to be peaceful, more than 55 workers are currently being affected.
Putting up a blockade is easy, finding a way to solve this age-old problem, is not.
Many would argue that the First Nations economies have been put on the back burner for years. It is critical that these communities realize real benefits from forests harvested in their backyards or any other resource extraction. Why else would they want to allow disruption in their environment if they don’t benefit from it?
Look at how upset the community of Big Lake is that they are being cut out of a community forest partnership between the Williams Lake Indian Band and the City of Williams Lake which will see them receive fewer benefits and a limited say in logging in their area.
Everyone wants to be heard and have a say in the future of their community landscape, particularly when it comes to the health and welfare of our surrounding forests.
In this area we are especially blessed with beautiful, diverse forests.
This good fortune has brought us all great opportunities such as many well-paying jobs as well as endless recreation and viewing values. As we celebrate those gifts this week, we must continue to move forward using a balanced, shared approach when it comes to the future of our home — our forests.
Williams Lake Tribune