The 100 Mile House Community Forest is a growing initiative that has been in operation for 18 months.
District of 100 Mile House Coun. Bill Hadden says the local community forest has a short-term operational agreement with West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. on a season-by-season basis.
“We harvested wood last year that was predominantly larger patches of dead pine, and this year, we’re targeting dead pine between Highway 24 and Horse Lake Road, and east of Fawn Lake Road.”
The harvesting of pine beetle-killed trees is primarily for forest fire fuel reduction, he explains, due to the proximity of the dead pines to residences and highways.
“We’re prioritizing in the areas that give the most benefit to the most people.”
The saw logs are used directly by the West Fraser mill in 100 Mile, and then the bulk fibre is sent to the neighbouring Ainsworth Engineered OSB plant.
The mandate of the community forest is multifaceted and includes fuel mitigation and social and economic benefits to the local community, which includes using local contractors.
Its current annual cut for the dead pine is about 20,000 cubic metres per year, Hadden says, but that harvest will drop considerably once they begin harvesting green trees.
“Once we’ve dealt with our dead-pine problem, we will have a reduction in the cut. We’ll then be targeting stands for marketing [such as] green fir and green spruce, with an eye towards house logs and some of the local log manufacturers.”
There are several small mills in the area that are looking for more volume, he notes.
The profit margin is rather small now, but Hadden says he hopes the initiative will grow and also wants to explore the potential for value-added products and cottage industries in the future.
Currently, these minor profits are building up in an operating reserve, he explains.
Once that has grown sufficiently the 100 Mile Development Corporation (100MDC), which owns the community forest, will determine how best to disperse the funds to the benefit of the community.
The 100MDC is owned by the district, and its community forest is operated by an advisory group that includes Hadden and three others.
The mission of the community forest has a primary focus on good environmental stewardship, guaranteed recreational and public use opportunities and the continued sound stewardship of the forest resource.
Its management objectives are to address the stability of the local economy while preserving the community forest resource for future generations.