The news of Meadow Creek Cedar acquiring the Argenta Face has now been circulated by community mailing. I am writing to say that not all Lardeau Valley residents are of like mind.
Firstly, what goes around comes around. If you advocate for preservation of thousands of hectares for caribou habitat, be prepared for a swap of operating area elsewhere.
Further, if government is so unwilling to compromise in the management decisions for an area that negotiations cease and one party leaves the table, be prepared for another party to take up the case and move forward with more determination.
The bottom line for the health of the economy in the Lardeau Valley is a responsible licensee managing the entire license and operating a local mill. At this point, the situation is far from this bottom line.
The fact that the current licensee was allowed to mismanage the license for so long is the total responsibility of the Ministry of Forests. To shirk away from this responsibility by trying to offload it on to a new prospective licensee is not only unfair, but stands in the way of encouraging a responsible operator to take over.
The financial obligation is excessive and should be borne by the government as a reflection of how the forests are managed in this province. The license should be cancelled, the land and buildings taken by lawsuit as required, and the package sold to an appropriate party by the government, which needs to be in total control. You reap what you sow.
I see no problem with the issuing of temporary undercut sales to existing licensees or to established large logging contractors providing there is no guarantee attached to curtail the integrity of the license.
Kaslo has two such operators who hire local workers and local truckers all of whom bolster the local economy.
Under no circumstances should the quota attached to the license be broken up as this will guarantee that there will be no milling facilities in the valley that utilize local wood. The two operating local mills import wood for manufacture of specialty products. 96M is small as a basis for mill establishment and would rely on wood from other tenures within hauling distance of Meadow Creek to supplement volume.
It was a clear decision during the CORE process 20 years ago that the Argenta Face remain in the working forest. The infrastructure is already developed for homes and and forest harvesting.
It is wrong to foreclose the option for people to manage the forest close to their communities and even more wrong to consider a developed area as wilderness. The harvesting that has occurred in this area over the last 50 years has had no detrimental effect on the land or people. It should be noted here that a large connective corridor between the conservancy and Kootenay Lake was established by the CORE process.
The government taking on the rehabilitation of mismanaged land is not all bad. Local work could be utilized for planning, road rehabilitation, and any required silvicultural work. Further, a prospective responsible licensee would be willing to pay the government more for a license in compliance. Most importantly, the work would get done to acceptable standards.
Being a layman, I am not party to the legal ramifications of what I am suggesting. However, as an ex-assistant ranger in the forest service, a holder of timber sales under the small business enterprise program, and a Crown woodlot licensee for 20 years, I know this situation would not have developed in times past. Clearly, there is a need for legislative change to enable the prevention of backlog non-compliance in forest licenses.