Forestry Renewal Plan Misses Point, Critics Say

Just over a month after the British Columbia government announced it would push an initiative to renew the Interior forestry industry, some say the province is a bit late to the game.

The initiative seeks to maximize the potential of existing amounts of timber amid the challenges of mountain pine beetle reducing the supply, the impact of wildfires and lower lumber prices.

But the Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF) has been working on plans to tackle these problems for two years, as Frank Varga, General Manager of the BLCF told Lakes District News.

“We have done a lot of work which directly supports the announcement, and we just can’t understand why it’s not being taken more seriously. As an area-based tenure we could be implementing the initiative as presented,” he said.

Of the province’s wide-ranging proposal, Varga pointed to its mention of the reduced timber supply, and said that though it’s fact it will go down, there are also opportunities in the existing supply that BLCF can pursue.

“We can offset some of those feared losses if we pursue these opportunities. We just need the willpower.”

One opportunity is the amount of timber in Visual Quality Objective (VQO) areas, which Varga said contains 43 per cent of the BLCF’s mature timber.

“The problem we have is that a lot of that has been impacted by mountain pine beetle. It’s also a major hazard. How can we be managing for those requirements?” he asked.

A technical paper Varga co-authored in May 2018 along with BLCF president Crystal Fisher, laid out some of the risks of those areas.

“A considerable amount of this is in close to very close proximity to the community of Burns Lake, as well as Tchesinkut Lake, Francois Lake, and Decker Lake rural communities. BLCF is committed to meet VQO objectives where feasible to do so; however, considerable areas within VQO…are dead pine and are blowing down.”

Removing the dead pine from those areas could reduce fire hazards and boost harvesting activity, in so doing satisfying two of the aims of the B.C. renewal initiative.

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