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Shelburne students planning walkout to raise awareness of clearcutting, climate change issues

SHELBURNE, N.S. —

Shelburne Regional High School (SRHS) students will be staging a walk out on May 3 to raise awareness of clearcutting and climate change issues and concerns in the community.

The ‘Stop the Chop’ walkout is being spearheaded by the Grade 9 Social Studies class as a service learning project.

“We were brainstorming ideas and the topic of the clear cuts that are going on around us came up and we talked about it and we figured it was a good cause and we wanted to help contribute to stopping it,” said student Sadie Oikle in an interview.

Oikle said a lot of students in other grades are signing up to take part in the walk.

“We went around to all the classes, did a presentation and almost everyone signed up,” she said.

The walk will start at 1:15 p.m. on Friday. Students will leave SRHS and walk along King Street to the Shelburne Community Centre and back to the school.

“If people want to join in, we’re open to them joining,” said Oikle.

Clearcutting and climate change are “such big issues right now,” said Oikle. “People think it’s okay to cut down all these trees when they could be doing selective cutting, which is better for the environment. So I think it’s good to bring awareness to how it’s harmful to our planet.

“We really need to spread awareness,” adds Oikle. “If we don’t change our ways now it’s going to develop into a much bigger problem and it will be irreversible in the future so we need to do something now before it becomes too big of a problem.”

Residents in Shelburne County have been voicing their opposition to approved clear-cut harvest plans on Crown land in Allendale and the Upper Clyde/Ohio area for some time now. A letter from the group Community Forests Shelburne County dated March 1 to Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin calls on the minister to “immediately declare a moratorium on clear cutting on Crown Lands in Shelburne County pending a thorough and proper review and consultation with our community.”

The letter, which was signed by more than 450 people, is also getting support from municipal units in the county. Barrington Municipal Council is the latest municipal unit to write Rankin requesting he meet with representatives of the group to hear their concerns.

WestFor Management Inc. holds the harvest licence for both the Allendale and Ohio sites. In an email, general manager Marcus Zwicker said the road work and field pre-planning has been completed for the Allendale site but “due to spring weight restrictions being in place it has not been scheduled to be harvested by a contractor yet.”

In an interview last fall, Zwicker said the Allendale site was a harvest site that Bowater had intended to operate in 2012, building roads into the majority of it before it was bought back by the Crown. “That block was still in the operating que. That’s why we’re there today,” he said.

WestFor Management was formed in 2016 by 13 mills that previously had individual timber licences to operate on sections of Crown land. Collectively, WestFor is licensed to operate on about 50 to 60 per cent of the Crown land in southwestern Nova Scotia.

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