POLITICS

Alberta government serves logging protesters with enforcement order

01/25/2012 09:02 EST | Updated 03/26/2012 05:12 EDT
PINCHER CREEK, Alta. - Officials with Sustainable Resource Development have yet to move in on protesters who want to stop logging in a foothills recreation area in southwestern Alberta.

"We're following our due process. We're not being heavy-handed here," department spokesman Duncan MacDonnell said Wednesday. "There's something to be said for that."

Protesters set up camp two weeks ago in the Castle Mountain area to block logging trucks owned by Calgary-area forest company Spray Lake Sawmills. Sierra Club Canada said Wednesday that a rotating picket line and outfitters camp were still stopping Spray Lakes staff from getting in.

MacDonnell said protesters have been served with an enforcement order requiring them to comply with earlier legal trespassing notices, adding that takes the department one step closer to being able to move in and take action.

"We'll see if they decide to obey the order."

MacDonnell said signs have been posted on their tents to say they are "unauthorized structures" and compliance officers go to the site every day to document what's happening, take photographs and shoot video.

"This is an active investigation under the Public Lands Act," he said. "We're continuing to give them verbal and written notification at each step of the way.

"We want to see a peaceful resolution to this. It's been very civil up to this point, but we want to see it come to an end."

The Sierra Club suggested the protesters aren't going anywhere.

"We have to hold the line on this protected area or else the others throughout Alberta are at risk, too," Peter Sherrington, a resident of the nearby hamlet of Beaver Mines, said in the Sierra Club release.

The ad hoc protest group called Stop Castle Logging has indicated it will maintain a presence at the site until a court order is given or the RCMP come.

The protesters say taking down trees in the area will hurt tourism, disrupt the watershed and destroy core grizzly bear habitat.

They want Premier Alison Redford to stop logging until there's a better protection plan, but she has said she won't step in. She says there is a forest management agreement in place and two-thirds of the land is protected. She says less than one per cent of the trees are to be logged for economic development.

She says the protest is now a legal matter.

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