PINCHER CREEK — Protesters fighting a logging operation in a foothills recreation area in southwestern Alberta say they aren’t giving up despite the arrest of four people.
The four were taken into custody Wednesday by RCMP when they defied a court order to leave their campsite in the Castle Mountain area. The other protesters voluntarily left.
Gord Petersen, president of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition and one of the protesters who left, says the plan is to set up another camp nearby.
“We’ll…continue protesting — it may not be quite as high-profile as it has been lately — at a site that is outside the court-ordered area, so that people can legally protest there,” he said in an interview Thursday.
The battle will also move to a Calgary courtroom on Friday.
“We’re trying to get that court order overturned, in which case we could go back to the site to protest some more,” Petersen said.
The protesters will also appeal an enforcement order, issued by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, that the court order was based on, he said.
Discussions continue with their legal advisers, Petersen added, although he wouldn’t say what options are being considered.
The protesters had set up camp in the Castle Mountain area more than two weeks ago to block logging trucks owned by Calgary-area forest company Spray Lake Sawmills.
Sustainable Resources last month served the campers with trespassing notices and the enforcement order. When protesters ignored those, government officials served them Monday with a court order to leave the area.
Those arrested were taken to nearby Pincher Creek, then released on a promise to appear Feb. 24 in Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary.
The protesters say taking down trees in the area will hurt tourism, disrupt the watershed and destroy core grizzly bear habitat.
“For more than two years, we’ve been presenting alternatives and solutions to the government,” Petersen said earlier in a news release. “There are other places within the Crowsnest Forest that could be logged that don’t have the same value for local tourism economies or such important wildlife habitat.”
They want Premier Alison Redford to stop the 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.