Community forest supports local groups, activities

Income earned stays within the community

  • Jul. 8, 2020 12:00 a.m.

The Dungate Community Forest has a plan to expand its area of operations into a portion of the Morice Mountain Recreation Area. (District of Houston illustration)

The Dungate Community Forest has distributed $67,200 in grants for the first six months this year, money earned through the sale of wood logged under a licence from the provincial government.

Overall, the forest has a goal of distributing an average $160,000 a year based on harvest volumes, explains Steven Wright, speaking on behalf of the community forest’s board.

And last year, the forest exceeded that goal by distributing $192,000 to community groups and to support community activities.

There is no deadline to make an application for a grant and applications are welcomed throughout the year.

That Dungate Community Forest, which is 99 per cent owned by the District of Houston, supports local community groups and activities through grants is one of the key benefits it brings to Houston and area, Wright said.

“Community forests help bring more local control to the environment. The values of local people help develop forest plans that are different than a corporate licence,” he said.

“The funding of clubs, activities, trails by the community forest helps create the activities that the residents like to enjoy.”

Wright noted that the majority of the money generated by Dungate stays in the community through employment, donations and payments to the District of Houston.

Aside from community grants, Dungate also provides an income stream to the District of Houston for projects it might not otherwise be able to achieve.

District of Houston financial statements for the year 2019 indicate an investment in the community forest of just over $3 million with 2019 earnings at $1.626 million. The majority of the latter is maintained within the community forest for its operations.

One project supported by Dungate profits was to close the gap in financing needed for a new refrigeration unit for the arena with the added benefit of extending a line to the curling rink.

“I like when the board can help out a group. The curling season was in jeopardy due to the refrigeration unit and the Dungate Community Forest helped them,” said Wright.

While continuing its regular operations, Dungate is advancing a plan to expand its operations into a portion of the Morice Mountain Recreation Area, a proposal that would further cement the goal of combining harvesting with developing outdoor recreational amenities.

That plan is now being circulated for public comment and support prior to seeking approval from the province.

“The working forest needs large tenures, small tenures and medium tenures like [Dungate’s] for effective use of the resource. Community forests are good for the residents, the sawmill and the forest,” Wright said.

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