West Kootenay businesses urge MLAs to defend old growth forests

“Old-growth trees are a staple of the community,” says Dina Esposito, owner of Caffe Americano.

More than 50 West Kootenay businesses signed a letter urging the provincial government to uphold campaign promises and protect at-risk old-growth forests. Photo: Submitted

More than 50 West Kootenay businesses signed a letter urging the provincial government to uphold campaign promises and protect at-risk old-growth forests. Photo: Submitted

More than 50 West Kootenay businesses signed a letter urging the provincial government to uphold campaign promises and protect at-risk old-growth forests.

A variety of businesses in Trail, Castlegar, Fruitvale, Kootenay Bay, Nelson, New Denver, Rossland, and Salmo are trying to protect the last remaining old-growth forests in BC. These forests are vital as they absorb carbon pollution, and safeguard people and businesses from climate impacts, like flooding, droughts, and wildfire and assist in meeting the CleanBC goals.

“Old-growth trees are a staple of the community,” says Dina Esposito, the owner of Caffe Americano in Trail. “They provide a lot of good for residents and tourists alike. It is clear something needs to be done to preserve the last remaining old-growth forests.”

The West Kootenay is home to old-growth inland temperate rainforest, a globally unique forest. Old-growth forests are home to many endangered wildlife species including the Selkirk caribou, Northern goshawk, and spotted owl. These forests have become a recreational staple for the residents of the Kootenays. Residents and tourists walk, hike, and mountain bike through old-growth forests to stay cool on hot summer days.

The letter requests accountability from the BC Government on old-growth campaign promises.

This includes the immediate deferral of logging in all of the most at-risk old-growth forests; the implementation of the recommendations as laid out in the Old Growth Strategic Review within the recommended timeline as committed to by the government, and operating within the passed provincial legislation to uphold the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The NDP Provincial Government has said they will implement the Old Growth Strategic Review, yet there is still logging of old-growth forests in the Kootenays,” said Josh Drozda, West Kootenay EcoSociety’s Deputy Executive Director. “We have old-growth forests here that also need to be conserved.”

West Kootenay EcoSociety supported these businesses and sent the letter to the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, and 10 MLAs with related portfolios such as Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development Minister, Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay-West. BC Rural Development Parliamentary Secretary, Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen, BC Minister of Municipal Affairs, Nathan Cullen, BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman, BC Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Murray Rankin, Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston, John Rustad, Critic for Forestry, and Renee Merrifield, Critic for Environment & Climate Change.

West Kootenay EcoSociety is a non-profit community-driven organization that brings together local residents to protect the natural environment while building just, equitable, healthy, and livable communities in the West Kootenay region.

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