LETHBRIDGE — Southern Albertans who protested logging in the Castle River recreation area say they won’t be going to jail.
Gordon Petersen of Pincher Creek was one of four protesters apprehended by police after they tried to prevent clear-cut logging there earlier this month.
Petersen says provincial officials have decided not to lay trespassing charges and in return, the four have dropped plans to appeal a court order banning them from the immediate area.
Petersen calls it an agreement “that will resolve the outstanding issues surrounding the logging arrests and the court order.”
He says now the protesters “can get on with the business of challenging the substantive legal issues surrounding the granting of the logging licence and challenging the logging itself.”
The protesters want to appeal an administrative order from Sustainable Resource Development officials which closed the popular recreation area to the public weeks after protests began.
Spray Lakes Sawmills of Cochrane, Alta., has a licence allowing clear-cutting on an 81-square-kilometre swath in the Castle River area over the next few years.
Sustainable Resource Development officials were not available for comment Thursday.
Earlier this year, members of the Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition and other environmental groups set up a picket line on Highway 774 near the logging area adjacent to Beaver Mines Lake.
“It’s shocking and shameful that citizens were forced to face incarceration to try to stop logging in the Castle,” Petersen said.
“The government appears to be deaf to the public’s concerns.”