Handmade mugs, macrame wall-hangings and paintings stretch across two tables in Kovach Park, softly illuminated by the Tuesday evening sun. Underneath the artistic depictions of forest tranquility, cardboard protest signs carry a darker message.
On Aug. 10, Old Growth Revylution hosted an art auction and old-growth vigil in Kovach Park. All proceeds from the art auction will fund the group’s logging blockade, covering expenses including food, fuel and communication devices. Hosted online through 32auctions, the fundraiser ends on Aug. 24 at 4 p.m.
Recently, Old Growth Revylution reestablished their logging blockade on Bigmouth Forest Service Road (FSR). An Aug. 9 Instagram post made the announcement, almost two weeks after forest fires forced the group to dismantle the blockade. Located approximately 122 kilometres north of Revelstoke, the Bigmouth FSR leads into the Argonaut Creek valley.
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Blockades will continue until policy reform occurs, says organizers
A few feet away from the auction table, about 30 people gathered to hear a blockade update. Old Growth Revylution organizer Sarah Newton says their work will continue until concrete forest-policy reform occurs.
“We don’t like the idea of stopping lawfully employed companies from doing what the government has allowed. That’s why it’s policy change we are after,” Newton explains. She then elaborates that two-year logging deferrals do not provide the sustainable change that Old Growth Revylution advocates for.
“We can’t keep putting fingers in little holes in the dike,” she explains. “Everyone here has jobs, everyone here has lives. We can’t keep working on two-year deferrals.”
During the update, organizers announced their plans to expand blockade efforts in the Argonaut Creek valley. Currently, Old Growth Revylution is only occupying Bigmouth FSR. Newton says the location of a new blockade will be chosen based on active logging areas and planned road construction.
Watch our on-the-ground coverage of the Bigmouth blockade here:
Awaiting panel reviews ahead of policy change
As the province continues to weather a harsh summer, activists are eagerly awaiting updates from the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel. Assembled by the Government of British Columbia, the panel was announced on June 24. It aims to create a science-based approach to old-growth management.
Among those waiting is Newton, who is confident that the Argonaut Creek valley will be protected under the review.
“We are really optimistic that a lot of the area up here should be put aside,” Newton says. However, Old Growth Revylution also looks beyond forest protection policy. The group emphasizes the importance of a smooth transition into sustainable logging practices, including working with communities to mitigate economic loss.
These transition factors are addressed in the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel, which will be released in late September. Until then, activists are prepared to continue manning blockades.
Although it is unknown how this new panel will influence forestry policy in British Columbia, Newton remains hopeful that the province can change.
“It is possible, we’re not reinventing the wheel. Other countries do it, we just need to jump on board.”