Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, 05 March 2010 — Tolko Industries Ltd. has reviewed its operating plans for the Brown’s Creek area and decided to delay harvesting.
“The OKIB’s [Okanagan Indian Band's] continuing blockade, in defiance of British Columbia Supreme Court orders, has caused us to miss our operating window for winter harvesting operations on frozen snow conditions,” said Mark Tamas, Okanagan Woodlands regional manager.
“The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] have been in discussions with both Tolko and the OKIB about the continuing blockades, but there has been no meaningful progress to date,” Tamas says.
“We now do not expect to harvest in the area until the snow has melted. This spring we will complete the additional snow-free fieldwork outlined in our court-approved archaeological plan.”
“In addition to the 50,000 m3 of timber currently covered by the court injunction, we will also provide to both government and the OKIB our specific plans for 2010 operations,” Tamas said. “This includes the next group of approved cutting permits and other volumes impacted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic in the Brown’s Creek area.”
The Brown’s Creek area comprises 27,000 hectares of Tree Farm License (TFL) 49. The TFL represents an important log supply for Tolko’s Okanagan facilities. It has been professionally managed for natural resource values for more than 50 years.
“During this interim period, we remain open to meaningful meetings with the OKIB to explore how both parties can move forward on the broader and longer term issues in the Brown’s Creek area,” says Tamas. “We also understand the provincial government is again reviewing the work completed in relation to the continuing concerns of the OKIB regarding water in the Brown’s Creek area. This involvement and other areas of participation by government are welcome as we need to lay to rest some long standing issues to have certainty looking forward after many years of delay.”
Other issues needing resolution include ownership of the Westside Road, and the underlying pursuit by the OKIB over 10 years of its aboriginal rights and title claim in the Brown’s Creek area.
Tolko has a court-issued injunction and enforcement order to allow access to our legally approved cutting permits.
“Throughout this dispute we have followed the orders of the court and we expect the OKIB to do the same when we return to logging as soon as ground conditions are suitable,” Tamas said.