Old-growth logging protesters organizing for potential blockade in Revelstoke area

New group plans rally and announcement at Revelstoke City Hall steps on July 7 and is recruiting volunteers for a potential blockade in the region.

Protesters at a July 1, 2021 rally against old-growth logging at the Revelstoke Courthouse. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Opponents of old-growth logging say they are working on plans for a blockade in the Revelstoke area, but the details of exactly where, when and for how long remain unclear.

On Canada Day, just over 150 people participated in a march and rally opposing old-growth logging at the Revelstoke Courthouse. The event, which wasn’t affiliated with any particular environmental organization, featured several speakers.

Watch: Video, photos, and social media from the July 1 Revelstoke Courthouse rally opposing old-growth logging:

July 1 Revelstoke Courthouse rally opposes old-growth logging

Before, during and after the rally, we spoke with several organizers who talked of efforts to establish a blockade targeting old-growth logging in the Bigmouth Creek and Argonaut Creek areas. Both are remote forested areas located east of Highway 23 North, about 120 kilometres north of Revelstoke. The areas are accessed by forest service roads that branch off from the highway.

Read more about activism opposing old-growth logging in Argonaut Creek here:

Public pressure halts logging plans in Argonaut Creek caribou habitat

Environmental groups have targeted logging in the area, citing the need to protect old-growth forests, and also to preserve mountain caribou habitat.

Now, a new Facebook page called Old Growth Revylution, has popped up and announced a Wednesday, July 7, 9 a.m. rally in front of Revelstoke City Hall. The group has said they will make a “major announcement” at the rally.

A post on the new Old Growth Revylution Facebook page asks for volunteers to help with a blockade, including for blockaders who may risk arrest. Photo: Screenshot from Old Growth Revylution Facebook page

In a post to the page, the group is seeking backcountry equipment and volunteers for things like social media and photography. They are also looking for people willing to “volunteer to potentially participate in a blockade. There would be roles for both individuals willing to and NOT willing to be arrested.”

Analysis: Will it happen, and in what form?

Protesters march down First Street West en route to a rally opposing old-growth logging at the Revelstoke Courthouse on July 1, 2021. Photo: Aaron Orland/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The Fairy Creek blockade has commanded international attention as tenacious protestors backed by waves of reinforcements have stymied plans for logging in Fairy Creek, forced the B.C. government to scramble to make old-growth policy announcements (that protestors say are not enough), and stripped green patina off the BC NDP brand.

But the Inland Temperate Rainforest is a long way from Southern Vancouver Island, a hotbed of left-coast political activism in B.C. Can the organizers sustain a protest in the Revelstoke area, which isn’t known for overt activism? In a mountain town where forestry is a major industry and most residents are connected to one another by a degree or two of separation or less, participating in a blockade does require a level of commitment.

Organizers have tried to emphasize their protests aren’t about logging, but about logging old-growth forest.

Before, during and since the protest, several organizers spoke of plans for a blockade, but their challenge seemed to be getting it organized, figuring out logistics, and assessing volunteers’ interest and ability to sustain a remote blockade. In other communities in the region, protestors have opted for less intensive protests, such as a one-day blockade of Castlegar’s main street in June.

A July 1 protest against old-growth logging at the Revelstoke Courthouse. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

So far, the organizers are a coalition of individuals and members from various environmental activist organizations, although the protests aren’t being organized under the banner of one group. Like with many political protest movements in contemporary times, the organization so far is decentralized, relying on networks of activists using digital communication tools to network.

Another complicating factor is a new wildfire in Old Camp Creek, located up French Main Forest Service Road (FSR) in the Goldstream river valley, about 25 kilometres south of the Big Mouth FSR. Touched off by lightning on July 2, the fire has expanded to 72 hectares in three days and is listed as out of control, modified response. Highway 23 is the only road access to the Bigmouth area located north of the wildfire, so increased wildfire activity in the area could create additional challenges.

Organizers have promised a major announcement for July 7 on the city hall steps, where plans for old-growth logging activism in the area, including a potential blockade, should become more clear.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.