Interior wildlife land trust sues after someone cut down a tree | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior wildlife land trust sues after someone cut down a tree

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A Southern Interior non-profit is taking three people to court over a tree that was chopped down on its property for firewood.

The large fir once stood at Edwards Pond in the Grand Forks area until the group used a chainsaw to take the tree down within the wildlife preservation area, according to a notice of claim.

The loss of the tree was greater than its monetary value, damaging the habitat for wildlife in the area for "decades to come," the Southern Interior Land Trust said in its claim.

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The non-profit said three people using an ATV and a Jeep to access the 50-acre Edwards Pond wildlife preserve from a neighbouring property on March 31, 2022. After taking the tree down, they split the wood near the pond, which was once an oxbow of the Kettle River and serves as a habitat for both great blue herons and bald eagles, according to the claim.

One of the defendants, Shawn Lockhart, did not respond to a request for comment from and has not responded in court. The other two defendants are not named in the notice of claim.

Lockhart's family, according to the non-profit, has owned a property just down the road from the wetland for "decades."

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The Edwards Pond property was purchased in 1991 by the land trust, which is also a western painted turtle habitat. The non-profit allows public access to the wetland, but motorized vehicles are prohibited, as is tree removal without permission.

The non-profit reported the incident to Grand Forks RCMP on the day the tree was cut, but it's not clear what came of a police investigation.

A day later, the non-profit found its sign warning that vehicles are not allowed on the property had gone missing and its post was cut, according to the claim.

The non-profit is looking to the court for an order restraining the three defendants from the pond, along with unspecified damages for trespassing, the tree cutting and environmental loss of the tree.

Its claims haven't been proven in court.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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