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actions & protests | forest defense

Shaking the Tree: an eco-defender's ordeal

"This is precedent-setting for any environmental direct actions in Canada in the future." Dennis Zarelli sounds stunned by what's happened.

The thirty-year-old activist (and comrade of mine) was convicted of obstructing justice in December 2006. A BC Supreme Court judge refused to believe police endangered his life in a tree-sit one hundred and fifty feet off the ground. He is facing nine months in jail at his sentencing in February 2007.
Bridge blockade, July 2000
Bridge blockade, July 2000
"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

homepage: homepage: http://gnn.tv/B21270

Amazing 28.Jan.2007 13:41


This is an amazing tale. These people are incredible heros whose names should go down in history. We can all thank them for what they've done And thanks for posting so we can be inspired and grateful.

doomtree 29.Jan.2007 15:26


sadly, none of the names will go down in history, as there will be no history...given that history is a recollection of what our species did or did not do here, and soon enough it won't be doing anything anymore...however, way to go you cascadians, you are inspirational and doing everything you know how to do do defend your bioregion...i wish i could say the same about mine...