September 23, 2011 13:45 ET

First Nations Seek Injunction to Prevent Forestry Activities in Sensitive Watersheds

KAMLOOPS, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 23, 2011) - The Tk'emlúps and Skeetchestn Indian Bands (together known as the "Stk'emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation" (SSN) of the Secwepemc Nation) are seeking an injunction in the Supreme Court of British Columbia to prevent International Forest Products Ltd. and West Fraser Mills Ltd. from logging in four sensitive watersheds within the SSN's Traditional Territory. The forestry companies hold licenses and permits to cut within the Jamieson Creek, Criss Creek, Heller Creek and Tranquille River watersheds.

"These watersheds are crucial to the people of the SSN," said Skeetchestn Chief Rick Deneault. "The cutting International Forest Products and West Fraser Mills are approved to do in these watersheds threaten our culture, our way of life and our constitutionally protected rights. We must take steps to protect and manage our remaining intact forests."

For the SSN, the forests in the key watersheds provide habitat for animals traditionally hunted by the Secwepemc people, contain important streams and rivers for fish, and support plants that are significant for cultural and medicinal purposes.

Tk'emlúps Chief Shane Gottfriedson blamed the current situation on decades of forest mismanagement. "The province of BC and the forestry industry have created this mess," he said. "Now our territory is a patchwork of roads, clearcuts and sick pine plantations. Industrial forestry and silviculture practices have fundamentally changed the composition of the forest and made it susceptible to mountain pine beetle epidemics. These watersheds are a snapshot of what is going on all over our territory and across the BC interior and we worry there are only a few more years of logging left. It must be sustainable."

"We are the rightful stewards of the forests in our territory," added Chief Deneault. "We have the knowledge and capacity to sustainably manage forestry activities in our territory. Our bands have tried repeatedly to get the provincial government and various forestry companies to the table to work out a plan for co-management. But we've reached a tipping point. We simply cannot wait any longer."

Contact Information

  • Stk'emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation
    Chief Shane Gottfriedson
    (250) 318-8527

    Stk'emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation
    Chief Rick Deneault
    (250) 819-5749