"Even had someone died six years ago, it seems the courts would have found that it was our own fault."
As the battle raged six years ago, it looked like the old-growth forests of the Elaho Valley were doomed. Eighty percent of the area had already been logged. A priceless grove of record-setting trees was about to fall. Wilderness advocates from the coast and across the province pledged to help defend the area. Hundreds visited and fell in love with the canyonlands along the Elaho River in British Columbia's Coast Mountains near Whistler.
But International Forest Products (Interfor) kept marching on. Each year, chainsaws and bulldozers chewed through whole mountainsides full of cedar, fir and hemlock, leaving massive scars on the steep slopes and filling fish streams with silt.
Repeated appeals to the government and Interfor failed, so forest advocates took to civil disobedience and peaceful protests to stop the logging. I was with Zarelli and other forest defenders on the frontlines of Interfor's logging operations for months at a stretch. We built a protest camp at the end of the road from downed trees and tarps, and took turns cooking communal meals, hauling water, and playing cat-and-mouse games with the loggers. By the end of July. two dozen people were camped at the road's end.
We were holding the line to protect thousand-year-old firs and cedars north of Lava Creek. The previous year, contractors had punched in a logging road over fierce resistance and incredibly rough terrain. The battle front shifted to the new bridge over Lava Creek, which was the only way to access the upper valley.
"Everything we were doing kept getting more escalated," Zarelli says. "We didn't want to block the road for just a day or two." He and three friends set out to create a hard blockade, one that would keep the road blocked for a couple weeks. They devised a system to put themselves in harm's way, block the bridge, and stay out of reach of the police, all at the same time.
Read the full article with photos: http://gnn.tv/B21270