Thursday, May 17, 2012 (All day)

VICTORIA – What remains of an 800 year-old Red Cedar lies in the parking area at Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park. Last year, poachers were unsuccessful in an attempt to fall the tree, but had damaged it sufficiently to force BC Parks Staff to bring the ancient cedar down for safety reasons.

Since then, the cedar poachers have returned at their leisure, cut up, hauled out, and taken away much of the tree. Some of this work has been done in recent weeks and has further damaged the environment. Undergrowth in the park is torn and crushed, a ditch is caved in and blocked with debris, small concrete parking stops have been moved or broken, and steel cables are lying around. Only one section of the trunk remains in the forest, along with the stump – which is nine feet in diameter. 
Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee, visited the site last weekend and is currently following up with parks officials and the RCMP.
“Our parks are extremely important to our province,” says Coste. “They are and always should be regarded as some of the most spectacular natural areas in the world – not as poorly protected places where poachers can operate without consequence.”
BC Parks staff are currently seeking funds to mediate the damage. The Lake Cowichan RCMP has also been contacted, but enforcement in the Carmanah area is difficult due to its remote location. 
The Wilderness Committee has always pushed for better protection in existing parks, but the province has cut funding to BC Parks on an almost annual basis over the last ten years. Currently, BC Parks has just 10 full-time park rangers for 1,000 parks and protected areas.
“There should be measures in place to stop this kind of thing,” says Coste, “We entrust BC Parks with places that are valuable to us, but our government doesn’t give them the resources to look after these areas.” 
Through its BC Parks Campaign, the Wilderness Committee works to uphold the government in its responsibility to manage and protect provincial parks on behalf of the public, Coste explains.
“It’s clear that cedar is taken from Carmanah without fear,” Coste continues, “What we need to know from Environment Minister Lake is if cedar poaching is happening anywhere else.”
Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
1(250)250-388-9292, torrance@wildernesscommittee.org
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