CLB: ‘Science-based review costs far outweigh benefits’

Canim Lake Band concerned about Forest and Range Practices Act

In a July 12 press release, the Canim Lake Band (CLB) announced its concerns about the provincial government’s Forest and Range Practices Act, and the current “science-based review” (SBR) being promoted by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the forest industry.

The release states:

The CLB supports the forestry industry, and we are part of it. We manage approximately 23,000 hectares of forest land under a First Nations Woodlands Licence and two woodlots. The CLB also owns and operates a logging company, and band members are involved in virtually all aspects of the local forest economy.

Recently band members have become very dissatisfied with the forest practices generated by the provincial Crown’s Forest and Range Practices Act. In response to these concerns, the CLB produced and published a Forest Stewardship Retention Plan.

This can be viewed on the CLB website at www.canimlakeband.com. It explores some alternative viewpoints concerning forestry. The CLB welcomes any comments from the general public.

One of the more difficult current issues for this community is the SBR, being promoted by the provincial Crown and the forest industry. The review area covers Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

This process explores the concept of erasing three significant components of the existing land-use planning framework; visually sensitive areas, mule deer winter ranges and old growth management areas.

These three elements restrict the forest industry, and because they protect and maintain something that is extremely valuable to the CLB, a component of wild forests on the landscape.

Due to recent accelerated beetle harvesting, these remaining wild forests are currently even more important. Erasing these zones is really a decision about values. Are natural, wild forests valued by society, and to what extent?

Fifteen years ago, approximately one million cubic metres of annual allowable cut (AAC) was deemed to be sustainable for 100 Mile House. Due to beetle the cut has risen to about two million cubic metres AAC. Now, as we approach the end of the beetle wood, it looks like the cut must fall to below its previous level to 0.8 million AAC. (See the 100 Mile House Timber Supply Public Discussion Paper.)

The CLB is well aware that this adjustment will be difficult. Preliminary SBR results for 100 Mile House show that by removing visuals, mule deer and old growth areas, 100 Mile will gain about 12 per cent, or roughly an additional 110,000 cubic metres of available wood each year.

However, the CLB believes that rather than experiencing a long-term AAC, it would be far more likely that most of the wood made available via the SBR would be logged off within a very short timeframe.

There are problems with the existing land-use planning framework. There are opportunities to revise and revisit the rules associated with harvesting in mule deer winter ranges.

There are opportunities to use public consultation and new technology to revise visually sensitive zones, and look at the rules that apply within in them.

There are some opportunities to relocate old-growth management areas in ways that may be acceptable and beneficial.

There are ways to marginally improve the mid-term timber supply outlook, but these will require real work and broad participation.

The SBR is a short-term quick-fix approach. If successful, it will likely delay the fall in the AAC by a year or two, but at the expense of our remaining ecological capital.

In the opinion of the Canim Lake Band, the costs far outweigh the benefits.”