Public pressure pushes government to halt caribou habitat logging

After significant public pressure, the B.C. government and its logging agency BC Timber Sales (BCTS) have committed to pause logging and road-building in a remote old growth valley north of Revelstoke, which is critical habitat for the North Columbia caribou herd.

A total of 276 hectares of proposed logging and more than 10 kilometres of new road will be halted until the provincial mountain caribou herd planning process is complete. Details have remained sparse on the North Columbia herd planning process. Past scientific assessments in the Revelstoke area have recommended that the province increase protection of all old-growth forests in core caribou habitat areas.

“We’ve made significant progress, but we remain committed to ensuring all of the identified caribou habitat and old growth forest in Argonaut Creek is protected,” says Thomas Knowles, Executive Director with the Echo Conservation Society.

A total of 63 hectares of blocks are still slated for logging. These blocks have yet to be auctioned off by BC Timber Sales. The blocks are in or adjacent to Argonaut Creek, 100 kilometres northeast of Revelstoke in the Northern Selkirk mountains. Approximately five kilometres of new road has already been built. Wildsight, Wilderness Committee and Echo Conservation Society are calling for these remaining blocks to be cancelled and the five kilometres of road that has been built to be fully rehabilitated.

More than 1,200 people took action and called on government decision makers and BCTS to cancel the logging in Argonaut Creek.

“This is a direct testament to the power of people taking action to protect caribou habitat and old growth forests,” said Conservation and Policy Campaigner Charlotte Dawe. “We must ensure the remaining cutblocks in this area are cancelled and Argonaut Creek gets protected under the caribou herd planning process.”

Only 40 percent of habitat for the North Columbia herd is protected. The herd is one of the most viable deep snow dwelling caribou populations left with 150 members.

Argonaut Creek is part of the Inland Temperate Rainforest (ITR), which is globally unique and one of the most at risk ecosystems in the province. B.C.’S ITR is the last large scale inland temperate rainforest left on earth.

“We’re still logging what little old growth and caribou habitat we have left,” says Wildsight Conservation Specialist Eddie Petryshen. “If we want caribou, if we want ‘supernatural BC, if we want a future where we have old growth, we have to start protecting old growth and caribou. Argonaut Creek is a great place to start protecting those values.”

While we celebrate this victory, there’s more to be done in Argonaut. Sixty-three hectares–70 soccer fields– of logging is still planned for Argonaut. Tell the government to cancel these three cutblocks today.

End of Logging Road leading to critical habitat. Photo: Echo Creek Conservation Society