'Eco-terrorism' targets Roche Lake

Several incidents of tree-spiking discovered at Interfor logging operation

Acts of "eco-terrorism" are taking place in the Roche Lake area that could potentially end a logger's life, according to B.C. Natural Resources compliance and enforcement personnel.

Patrick Tobin, regional manager for compliance and enforcement, said his staff is stumped over several incidents of tree-spiking discovered at an active Interfor logging operation west of Bleeker Lake.

"It's a horrifically insidious form of vandalism. It's been referred to as eco-terrorism," said Tobin.

He said trees with spikes can cause saw blades revolving at extremely high speeds to "literally explode" and send shrapnel around the inside of sawmills injuring workers and damaging equipment.

"It's a very dangerous act that could potentially result in serious injury and in the worst case, loss of life."

The tree-spiking incidents began in June when forestry workers noticed several cardboard signs bearing hand-scrawled warnings that spikes had been hammered into trees.

When Natural Resources and Interfor investigated, they found several standing and harvested trees had indeed been spiked. It was a shock - the area has rarely if ever seen such vandalism, said Tobin.

Forestry workers got rid of the sabotaged timber but there's always the possibility one might slip by their detection.

"You fall large numbers of trees in a day, it's not inconceivable that trees with spikes in them would pass the human eye," said Tobin.

He doesn't believe that actually happened or his office would've heard about it.

Tobin said his staff investigated the crimes and conducted some interviews, but they're at a dead end.

"We're still hoping we might get some information that might give us a fresh start because we've kind of run out of steam right now," said Tobin. "There's pretty severe penalties from criminal mischief to infractions under out legislation that potentially involve jail time and severe fines."

The motivation behind the acts is a complete mystery, he said. The only active users with a stake in the area are rock climbers.

The Climb Kamloops group, which organizes "adopt-a-crag" site improvement days at Roche Lake, did not return calls for comment.

However, the organization's website indicates a co-operative relationship with Interfor and compliance authorities.

The website includes a call for information about the tree-spiking from a compliance officer.

And Interfor staffer Rhiannon Poupard is attributed with posting information on logging activity around the more popular crags. Calls to Poupard and other Interfor representatives were not returned.

Climbing advocates and Interfor agreed to a buffer zone around the crag. And a Climb Kamloops website posting from climbing advocate Garry Brace showed little resentment around the logging activity.

"The immediate climbing area doesn't look or feel any different," he wrote. "I think the loggers did a good job, and overall the blocks look pretty good."

Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to call the province's Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).

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