Gitxsan house group installs gate on forest road to prevent logging on their territory.
A Gitxsan house group is currently controlling access to the Date Creek Forest Service Road in the Kispiox Valley over concerns about potential old growth logging.
The Git'luuhl'am'hetxwit Wilp installed a steel gate in the road last month after they noticed forestry surveyors in the area and active cutblocks on their territory listed on a provincial database.
"We really want to make sure that the territory is protected for the future generations, and that it's clear cut in a single generation,” said Git'luuhl'am'hetxwit Wilp forestry spokesperson Denzel Sutherland-Wilson.
“These are forests that are upwards of 250 years old in a lot of cases, and a lot are around 140years old, as far as I understand. We really just want to ensure it's protected and that we can rebuild our connection and start reoccupying and living in our territory.”
Sutherland-Wilson says old growth trees have been logged before on Git'luuhl'am'hetxwit territory. Although there hasn't been any recent logging on it, he's seen an increase in logging activity in other nearby areas.
“There's logging going on around all over Gitxsan territory. We can stop this one little this chunk here on our territory, but they're hauling logs and massively increasing the scale of what they're doing. Everyone can see it – there's a lot of logging trucks passing through the village.”
Sutherland-Wilson says a number of forestry contractors – as well as an excavator sent by the province to remove the gate – have been turned around by members of the Wilp since the gate was installed.
He adds that the Wilp isn't entirely opposed to forestry on their territory. Rather, they want to see the industry take a more careful approach that leaves behind trees for future generations.
“I’d like to see a return to the way we handled forestry in the past. My grandfather selectively logged on our territory, and my father logged all these logs for our house here. I'd like to see a return to selective logging on our territory and no work done without the consent and input of our Wilp on our territory."
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development says a letter was sent to the Wilp advising them to remove they gate. They also confirmed they engaged a contractor to remove the gate on May 17th.
The ministry says a meeting with the installers of the gate will take place on June 5th.
Photo source: Git'luuhl'um'hetxwit Media (Facebook).