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Legal Battle Beginning to Open Forestry Roads to Scientists

A court challenge is being launched to reopen forestry road gates to citizen-scientists doing research in Tree Farm License 46, which includes Fairy Creek.

The environmental legal group Ecojustice says at least eight roads have been blocked by locked gates installed by Teal Jones under permission granted by the BC Ministry of Forests.

The group says Teal Jones hired a security firm to operate the gates.

Ecojustice is beginning the action on behalf of Dr. Royann Petrell, an associate professor at UBC, who is studying western screech owls and marbled murrelet.

Both are listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act.

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Ecojustice says all people who want to travel in the area are being illegally restricted, regardless of their purpose.

Lawyer Rachel Gutman says the province is “putting the interests of resource development and extraction companies” ahead of the right of local people and communities to access public lands.

The group says the Ministry of Forests can close or restrict roads if property, public health or public safety is at risk.

However, in the case of Teal Jones, Ecojustice says the purpose is to protect logging and is effectively turning wide swaths of public land into private land.

The group says a BC Supreme Court injunction against blockades started in 2020 by the Rainforest Flying Squad makes a clear distinction between protesters and people going about everyday business.

Ecojustice says Dr. Petrell is not involved in any of the blockades and should not be denied access.

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Dr. Petrell says the provincial government doesn’t “generally know where endangered birds and other wildlife are located,” and citizen-scientists are trying to fill that knowledge gap before the last remaining areas of old-growth are logged,

She says they are being prevented from “doing what the BC Government should have done years ago,” before it approved logging in those areas.

Ecojustice is a Canadian non-profit environmental law organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.

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