Trucks sound off in logging protest

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FREDERICTON, N.B. — Southwest New Brunswick logging industry stakeholders made sure they were heard thanks to a protest that gripped the legislature this week.

More than 100 residents and loggers from the area came to express fear over the government’s forest management plan and specifically how it applies to 400,000 acres of former Georgia-Pacific Crown land.

Protesters tried to drown out the business of the legislature, taking place behind the walls, by sounding their horns. Coburn said the region had come up with its own management plan that reduces the protected area and leaves management of the logging industry in the hands of the community.

According to Yvon Poitras, president and CEO of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association, handing management control to the community would be illegal under New Brunswick law. The law states Crown forestry land will be managed by forestry companies under strict rules.

If the proposal goes ahead, both recreation and the industrial backbone of the region would suffer dramatically. Some 130 local loggers worked on the Georgia-Pacific lands and those jobs are hanging in the balance.

A significant chunk of the former Georgia-Pacific land, which the province bought in 1999, is to be set classified a “protected area” under the provincial Protected Areas Strategy. Roughly 60,000 acres around Spednic Lake and the Canoos wetlands are included in the scheme.

The rest of the land is also to be set aside for what several large forestry companies are calling forest management.

That’s not fair to the people of the region, says Wayne Coburn of McAdam, a spokesman for the stakeholders group. He explains the historical employment of local independent logging contractors will be wiped out as the big forestry companies bring in their own loggers or pay lower wages than Georgia-Pacific used to.

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