The West Boundary Community Forest detailed their logging plans for the coming year at a public meeting in Midway on Tuesday, April 14 at Midway Community Hall.
This will be the first year of logging for the new community forest. In fact, the ink is hardly dry on the community forest agreement that was personally delivered by the Honourable Steve Thompson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations at the Vaagen Mill in Midway on March 31, 2015.
Vaagen has been hired to manage the West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF). Dan Macmaster, Vaagen’s fibre supply manager, spoke to the 14 people who attended the meeting.
“The bottom line is we want to do the best for the community,” Macmaster said. “The community mill has many workers and contractors living here. We want to get some logs to the mill, we want to keep people working.”_
Macmaster also manages and submits forest management documents to the ministry on behalf of the Osoyoos Indian Band and he told the meeting that the WBCF had been added onto the Osoyoos Indian Band Forest Management Plan.
The WBCF consists of many small woodlots spread across the West Boundary and Macmaster is planning on logging four areas this year. Gibbs Creek will see some work done to take out some pine that has Mountain Pine Beetle considerations.
There is also ecosystem restoration project work in the area being funded by the ministry to recover grassland for future range opportunities on some south facing slopes.
In an area called the Snowshoe between 6,000 and 9,000 cubic metres of wood will be taken in an attempt to control a root rot infestation.
Meyers Creek will yield mostly fir and larch and the “Ernie Block” near the woodlot of Ernie Rexin will be logged to help develop access for Rein to his woodlot.
Macmaster said that WBCF will log between 44,000 and 46,000 cubic metres this year—although they only have an annual allowable cut of 22,000 cubic metres they are claiming a cut for 2014 and 2015.
The logs will be tied to the local mill said Macmaster. “The logs that will fit the diameter needed for the community mill will go there,” he said. “The price that we will be buying at will be the same market price, so there is not any kind of subsidy at all. Any logs that are larger and the peelers will be traded with other mills.”
He said 23,000 cubic metres would flow to the Vaagen mill each year through cut or trade.
He explained that he reports monthly to the WBCF board of directors.
Local registered professional forester Fred Marshall noted the most recent Boundary Timber Supply Review shows local industry is not harvesting their profile. Marshall said the report says forest companies in the Boundary are not logging mountain pine beetle like they should, nor are they keeping on schedule with logging on steep slopes as they should.
Marshall said he is upset and concerned that the visual quality standards were eased in the WBCF license. The effect would be an artificial increase in the annual allowable cut. He asked for assurance that the WBCF will be managed to higher standard than what the forest industry is said to be performing to in the FSR.
WBCF director Ross Elliott said the board hadn’t welcomed the lowered visual quality standards and that the comments noted in the TSR did not reflect the way the community forest would be managed. Midway Mayor Randy Kappes, also chair of WBCF, told council at Monday night’s meeting that it would be on the agenda of the next directors meeting.
Marshall also questioned the recent decision by the WBCF shareholder (Midway and Greenwood councils) to not allow Area E to join in ownership of the WBCF.
Mayor Randy Kappes said one concern the WBCF board had expressed to the shareholders was that Area E’s request had come along in mid- March, just as the documents were about to be signed and they were concerned that any action at that time would have delayed the signing.
Marshall criticized the letter sent to Area E director Vicki Gee on March 20, calling it ludicrous and poorly stated. He said it didn’t give any valid reason for turning the request down and he asked that the shareholders reconsider their decision.
“This should be a true community forest,” Marshall said. “People living in Area E will have the logging in their back yards and they should be active participants rather than only commenters.”
He suggested that if the shareholders continue to refuse then the WBCF should be renamed the Midway-Greenwood Community Forest, not the WBCF.
Kappes said the shareholders welcome people to attend their meetings and to approach them with questions and to share their thoughts. “We by no means take the letter to mean that we should not consider their concerns when we are looking at the management of this forest,” Kappes said.
“There is a big difference between being an owner and an outsider,” Marshall replied. “Let’s make this a community forest.”
Vicki Gee said the Boundary Economic Development Committee is making community forests a top priority. “We are looking at trying to establish another one in the area; trying to get a really big one this time,” she said.
Gee noted that province-wide the amount of area that BCTS holds is 20 per cent but in the Boundary it is 40 per cent. She said a petition will be started calling for release of large tracts of land from BCTS. “And better quality land too,” she said noting that 65 per cent of community forests in the province are sensitive for some reason or another.
“Let’s change the system because it is just not working,” she said.