Don’t let the timber go up in smoke

Local municipal governments give Special Committee on Timber Supply great presentations

Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and District of 100 Mile House representatives echoed similar sentiments in separate presentations made before the Special Committee on Timber Supply.

At the public hearing in 100 Mile House on July 5, both local governments stated they do not support re-opening the Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan.

They would like the committee to determine how to reduce the Annual Allowable Cut based on science, consider tourism and other stakeholders’ concerns and leave the decisions in the hands of the province’s chief forester, and not politicians.

The local leaders also want the provincial government to promptly update the current inventory and undertake detailed growth and yield analyses to increase opportunities for fibre production.

CRD chair Al Richmond says decisions for what creates healthy and sustainable forests for British Columbia should be responsive, rather than reactive or “over-reactive.”

“We’re concerned the decision’s going to be made strictly based on economic values and we think there’s an ability to … make it sustainable over the longer period of time.”

100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall says “everything” has to reflect the long-term, and the district supports silviculture activities now to offset present work shortages and future timber shortages.

The chief forester should continue to have the final say in decisions based on scientific data, he adds.

“Politicians are the last ones who should be changing the timber supply.”

Extensive logging around a small lake with a resort on it can “devastate” that business, Campsall notes.

“There’s got to be respect for the tourism operators; there’s also got to be respect for the environment … all of that’s go to be put in parcel.”

However, Richmond says the CRD believes the committee should review the strategies and the achievements of the land-use plan’s original objectives had set out to do.

“Not by opening the whole plan up, but by looking to see how we’ve done.”

He explains that certain salvage logging licences granted specifically for dealing with beetle-infested pine are in stands where two-thirds is green, non-pine timber.

“In some cases, the green stuff has been taken out in salvage logging, but the dry stuff still winds up on the pile…. Up to 30 per cent of the stuff we touch when we go into the stand to do harvesting is left as waste.”

Even within close range of highways, it typically isn’t economical to get that fibre out, he notes, so incentives, such as reduced stumpage fees, are needed to get that fibre out of the forest and into viable use.

Says Campsall: “There’s enough fibre being burnt and left in the bush in our timber supply area to [supply] all the fibre that Ainsworth needs for the OSB plant.”

There will be negative impacts from addressing timber supply shortages, the mayor notes, and many people, industries and communities will be affected.

“Yeah, we need jobs, but we also need sustainability. We could go in there and log the bush to death, log it all in five years, and then we’ve no jobs [left] anymore. That’s not the game we want to play.”

100 Mile House Free Press