Update on Efforts To Save Owain Lake Forest

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Sun, 24 Nov 1996 16:20:51 +0000 (GMT)


/* Written 11:22 AM Nov 19, 1996 by eroots@web.UUCP in forest.canada */
/* ---------- "SAVE OWAIN LAKE!! LATEST UPDATE!!" ---------- */

Owain Lake Ancient Forest of Temagami-New Update

In June 28 of 1996, the Ontario Progressive Conservative
Government, through the Ministry of Natural Resources, announced
plans to open half of Temagami's ancient red and white pine
forest ecosystems to logging, and the majority of the land base
to mining interests. This came after decades of struggle to save
these rare and endangered ecosystems. These lands are also on
unceded First Nations territory. The first of these forests to
be put on the chopping block was the Owain Lake Ancient Forest,
in the southeastern Temagami district. The Owain Lake Ancient
Forest was determined to be the third largest ancient pine
ecosystem left in North America by Dr. Peter Quinby, a prominent
forest ecologist. This forest was allocated to Goulard Lumber, a
company located outside of the Temagami district and known for
targeting ancient pine forests for logging,

Thus, the struggle began. Earthroots, an Ontario based
environmental action group, declared plans to initiate a forest
based action camp in the Owain Lake area, to engage in peaceful
civil disobedience actions to defend this forest. The following
is a chronology of events, beginning with the creation of the
camp to the present.

November 1996 Update!!

November 17th is day 80 of the Owain Lake Forest Defence
Camp. Since our last update in late September, another 16
activists have been arrested in the struggle to save Owain Lake
Ancient Forest. We have received media coverage from sources as
varied as CBC's "The Nature of Things", the BBC, and many local
and international media outlets. The ongoing presence of the
base camp alone has maintained focus on the region, and has shown
that forest defenders will not bow to pressure from the Ontario
Provincial Police in their attempts to quell the right to raise
our voices in defence of this forest. The following is an events
update, and following that, a current situation update.

News from October, 1996

-Goulard Lumber Company continues its attempts to plunder the
Owain Lake Ancient Forest, and opposition continues in kind

Tuesday, October 1, 1996
-a male activist is arrested after locking himself with a heavy
lock box to heavy machinery at the logging site-after his arrest,
Staff Sergeant Kim Peters, and two other police officers enter
the base camp and warn activists that they have received
complaints from Goulard Lumber about the "safety of their
workers" due to the presence of peaceful demonstrators attending
the site-Staff Sergeant Peters announces that people found within
the "vicinity" of moving equipment or working employees will be
arrested and charged with criminal mischief-Peters refuses
requests to provide a written version of the warning, and when
asked by the camp facilitator, Lea Ann Mallett, to define the
term "vicinity" so that protesters will know where they can
legally demonstrate, he responds "You figure out what vicinity
means. You used to be a school teacher."-further requests for a
clear definition of legal demonstrating turf are met with "it is
up to the attending officers"

Wednesday, October 2, 1996
-early this morning, a female activist climbs into a platform
that is suspended over a wire between two trees and attached by
several lines to a skidder on the ground-use of the skidder is
blocked, as is access to the cutting area beyond the platform-
media is contacted, and initially the media have to inform the
police that the action is occurring, as the police officers
rarely venture out on foot into the forest itself-officers attend
the scene, and initially choose to leave the activist where she
is-she stays up overnight through heavy rains

Friday, October 3, 1996
-the platform's attachments to the skidder are removed and
relocated to a nearby tree by police and Goulard employees and
the skidder is moved-police give the activist the confusing
message that, if she does not come down on her own, they will
issue a warrant for her arrest, and get a search warrant to enter
the base camp (14 kilometres away!) to "look for her"-they also
tell her that she may not be charged if she comes down
voluntarily-the police then completely leave the area-due to
concerns about risk to the camp, the activist comes down, and is
arrested and charged with criminal mischief when she is
approached by police

Saturday, October 4, 1996
-World Commission on Forestry and Sustainable Development comes
to Temagami after meeting in Winnipeg

Saturday, October 5, 1996
-five members of the Green Party are arrested in the Owain Lake
area in a symbolic protest showing solidarity with Earthroots and
the Owain Lake Forest Action Camp

Tuesday, October 8, 1996
-early on this morning, a female activist ascends to a platform
suspended from a tripod blocking the main logging road into the
Owain Lake Ancient Forest-the tripod blocks large dump trucks
from entering the area (dump trucks are regularly hauling gravel
into the area to shore up the roads, which are soft due to the
delicate nature of the former forest floor and the heavy rains in
the area)-Goulard Lumber drives a bull dozer right under the
tripod, putting the activist at risk and barely squeaking
through-police reach the activist by standing on the raised
shovel of a front end loader, and she is arrested for criminal
mischief and intimidation
-meanwhile, at a speaking engagement in Peterborough, Ontario
regarding the issue, over 100 people attend (standing room only)

-over the next week, company activity in the area is largely
limited to gravel dumping to shore up roads into the area-new
visitors are taken on tours of the area and made aware of the
delicate nature of the ecosystem and the logging activities
destructive impact on the area

Thursday, October 17, 1996
-at 6am, two male activists are found affixed with steel lock
boxes around their arms to heavy machinery at the Owain Lake
site-one is affixed to an excavator, and the other to a slasher-
police are unable to remove the lock boxes, so they make the
decision to cut pieces out of the machinery to remove each
protester
-the same morning, Dr. David Suzuki and a camera crew from CBC's
"The Nature of Things" arrive at the base camp-the camp
facilitator escorts them to the site to film in the area
-support activists at the protest sites report that Claude
Goulard, the head of Goulard Lumber, demanded at both protest
events that workers get into the heavy machinery and start to
move them, with the activists still affixed, and that onsite
O.P.P. okayed this action-the presiding police officer at the
excavator site denies this, but the attending constable at the
slasher site, Constable Grant of the O.P.P., states that he had
told Goulard that he could "do whatever he wanted"-the machinery
ends up not being moved-the camp facilitator on the scene is
clear with police that they must act with the health and safety
of the protesters in mind as they attempt to remove them-both
protesters are removed, with the police and a worker choosing to
remove the protester on the slasher by blowtorching a foot-long
piece of the structural element the protester was affixed to off-
"The Nature of Things" camera crew documents the protest=the two
protesters are arrested and taken away
-a few of the protesters and the camp facilitator remain, to
escort David Suzuki and crew around the site-police are present
but appear to have no problem with the remaining people
-the remaining activists return to the base camp at 1pm-the
Suzuki crew leaves
-at 3:30pm, Staff Sergeant Kim Peters, Sergeant Pritchard and two
constables enter the base camp-they announce that they have a
second warrant for the arrest of Lea ann Mallett, the camp
facilitator, for breaching her bail conditions-they give no
evidence or description of her crime, but place her under arrest,
handcuff her hands behind her back and remove her from the camp
-Mallett is placed in North Bay district Jail to await a bail
hearing

Friday, October 18, 1996
-Mallett goes in front of a Justice of the Peace, who is informed
by both the Crown and Defence Attorneys that he does not have
jurisdiction in the case, as Mallett had been previously released
through a bail appeal in front of an Ontario Judge-the JP refuses
to relinquish jurisdiction, and rescinds Mallett's bail with no
evidence except the O.P.P. arrest warrant-Mallett is placed back
in jail for the weekend
-at the logging site, two male activists are found locked to the
two excavators in the area-it takes three hours to remove them
from the equipment

Monday, October 21, 1996
-at the logging site, two female activists are found under a dump
truck with their arms linked together in a lock box over the
drive shaft of the truck-the police threaten to charge the women
with resiting arrest if they do not remove themselves-in the
process of attempting to remove one of the women by cutting her
plastic handcuff inside the lock box, they cut her arm-police
later deny that any injury took place at the arrest site
-a third activists locks on to a piece of heavy machinery in the
site and is eventually removed and arrested
-two large student groups arrive at the camp to show their
solidarity with the protests
-it is announced that prominent Canadian lawyer Clayton Ruby will
be taking on Lea Ann Mallett's case to free her from jail and
represent her on all charges-the Crown is rumoured to be asking
to hold Mallett in jail until trial

Tuesday, October 22, 1996
-Mallett's bail hearing is short and sweet-the Crown, apparently
conceding a significant lack of evidence, asks simply for another
$300 bail for the new charge, and agrees that she can return to
the camp and resume her facilitation role their with no new bail
restrictions-another legal victory for the camp!

Wednesday, October 23, 1996
-a group of graduates and students from Sir Sanford Fleming
College in Lindsay, Ontario (which features an intensive resource
management program) attend the Owain Lake logging site, and amass
two pages of complaints regarding Goulard Lumber's contraventions
of their Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) work permits for the
area-the complaints are immediately called in to the Ministry
-Mallett arrives back at the Owain Lake base camp, just in time
for her birthday party

Thursday, October 24, 1996
-representatives from the Ministry of the Environment and Energy
show up to check out waste disposals facilities at both the
Forest Action Camp and the Goulard Lumber employee site-the
Forest Action Camp is given high grades, but Claude Goulard of
Goulard Lumber receives a warning as employees are defecating
right outside the doors of the trailers in which they are living
-representatives of the MNR show up to address the submitted
complaints-two of the Sir Sanford Fleming people take them
through the site-the MNR writes off most of the concerns as legal
latitude from the permits, but does express concern about the
deeply troughed skidder tracks present (due to the fragility of
the forest floor and the rains)-coincidentally, at that time,
Claude Goulard announces that he is pulling most of the employees
out of the Owain Lake area to finish off another unfinished site,
and will only return after the first heavy frosts have firmed up
the roads

Friday, October 25, 1996
-indeed, logging is stopped at the Owain Lake site, and two
skidders are removed that day

Monday, October 28, 1996
-no work takes place at the site-activists go in on a hike to
monitor the area-more equipment is removed from the site by
Goulard Lumber

Tuesday, October 29-present
-overall, there has been no logging and little work taking place
at the Owain Lake site during this time (monitoring works,
folks!!)-new visitors to the camp are taken in on informational
hikes into the Owain Lake Ancient Forest, and the base camp
remains-the focus is now education about the ecosystem, camp
maintenance and forest monitoring-our first snow was on October
31st (!!), and it did melt after a few days, but the weather has
been wintry recently and there is snow in the region now
-Goulard Lumber announced in the media November 11 that their
employees will be moving their trailers right into the protest
base camp area, as it is a former logging camp and a sought after
camping area-apparently, Goulard had planned to have their base
camp there before the activists created the Forest Action Camp
there!-thus logging employees and forest activists will be living
side by side starting sometime the week of November 18

That is the story to date. It is expected that logging may begin
again within the next couple of weeks depending on the weather.
Currently, the Forest Action Camp is ongoing, with our limiting
factors being the number of people still coming up and the
upcoming weather. Other campaign strategies are also in the
works to keep the issue of the ancient forests of Temagami in the
world's eye.

Latest word: Goulard Lumber started moving its machinery back
into the area on November 19. We need people ASAP to defend the
Owain Lake Ancient Forest from renewed logging!!!

GET INVOLVED!!
For more information, please contact Earthroots at (416)599-0152.
by mail at Suite 410, 401 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario,

M5V 3A8, by e-mail at eroot@web.net or at our Web site at
http://www.vearth.com/earthroots/contact.html.
** End of text from cdp:headlines **

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