After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Island Timberlands moves to start logging Cortes, ForestFest rallies to "meet threat of logging with one voice"

 Island Timberlands plans to begin logging on Cortes Island in September. It was unable to meet any of the demands of the petition that was signed by 6800 people.

The petition did serve the purpose of delaying the logging and obtaining an agreement that the oldest trees would not be cut. Riparian areas, trees under 250 years old, and species listed as rare and endangered are all at risk.

Young adults who grew up on Cortes are coming home to protect the forests in which they were raised. Rosemary Bockner wrote the following piece on growing up on Cortes Island.

A young woman reflects on her childhood on Cortes Island, BC

What a gift I’ve been given, to be raised by a village. Here, on and around Cortes, human and non human community has given me priceless gifts, that only now, having lived elsewhere, in metropolis and clearcuts alike, I have come to more fully appreciate.

As a teenager I couldn't wait to get out of here, but now returning after 17 years, i've witnessed the devastation of industrialization on the biosphere and it's components, whether it’s in the stony straight lines of concrete and the distracted faces of the commuters in the cities, or miles of massive stumps in clearcuts, I realize how precious the remaining wilderness and in particular biodiverse old growth forest stands are to the retention of life on land and in the sea.

I’m grateful I was raised in a complex ecosystem where we could catch grow and collect our food, socialize and interact with people of all ages and spend our time in the natural world. Living in the Gorge Harbour on a float house at age six was the pinnacle of my idyllic childhood memories.

There was always a sorrow when my dad killed the fish, but he taught me to thank the fish for giving its life to sustain our own. Our thanks was to take only what we needed and never to waste. To protect it from our personal human potential to damage it and pollute it, and from other larger forces of industry that seek to profit without giving back. 

I have spent ten years in clearcuts and know well the results of industrial logging practices. I've planted harvest trees, which is really in essence the same as cutting them down, so I have worked in the forestry industry and love the way of life and the hard working people I've met, the loggers, contractors, treeplanters, brushers checkers, camp workers, and many others who have made their living in forestry, many for generations. We are all on the same side, treecutters, treehuggers and treeplanters alike stand to lose our way of life.

The power of nature and community in coastal British Columbia

Life in metropolis, I've been there, I know what it is to pass a thousand people on the street and never say hello. I know many people that think the supermarket is where food comes from and the tap is where water comes from, and everything you flush down the toilet or put on the curb on garbage day just disappears. 

I remember the cornucopia of life in the early 80's. Seagulls that fascinated my child self by swallowing starfish whole. Oysters that dad would shuck on the beach and let me chew on the salty 'muscle' left on the shell. Moss and lichens that my mom taught me to identify. Catching red snappers and cod in the dingy for our dinner. Baby otters, minks, curious seals, enormous sunstars, luminous in the depth. Limpets and barnacles. Eagles and herons and loons. Thank you.

Thank you, forests. Mushroom walks like easter egg hunts, meaty and satisfying in mashed potatoes and soups. Cool shady depths, mother trees that seem to absord voices. Fern kingdoms, black bogs and striking bright yellow skunk cabbages.

Old falling down homesteads, swathed now in brambles, the homesteaders long gone and their remnants almost taken back into the earth by so many wet and windy winters. As time passes and more and more of what I knew is lost forever, I am grateful to have experienced it.

Thank you for teaching me that the ultimate gift is to return home, to return your gifts to your home. 

In gratitude I’ve joined with others to organize Forestfest, in advance of Island Timberland's planned start date for the logging of their corporately owned lands. Forestfest will bring the community together to prepare ourselves for whatever comes next, so that we can meet the threat of corporate logging with one voice.

I invite all of you to bring your gifts, your talents, your strengths, your song to protect the community of plants and animals who give us these gifts in the first place, to come and add your voice. I implore you to see the sadness of IT's plans as a call to action, and not to give up. 

We need each other, our abundant community, now more than ever.

More in Earth Matters

What to do when the IPCC gets you down

There's only so much end of the world you can take. Here's what you can do about it.

Learning the language of climate solutions

If someone had told me how hard learning another language was I wouldn't have tried.

Failure not an option for climate movement

Saying the climate movement is a failure and we should give up is not an option.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.