Forest minister visits 100 Mile House

Steve Thomson talks tenures, speaks with stakeholders

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett hosted Forests

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett hosted Forests

Pine beetle, fibre supply and agriculture were on the agenda with local government and industry stakeholders when Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson visited 100 Mile House on Aug. 28.

Thomson said he travelled to the community on the invitation of Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and as one of his ministerial responsibilities.

“We can read briefing notes and things like that, but you need to get on the ground and talk to the communities. That’s part of our job, getting out and engaging [with industry] and learning what the issues are, and the perspectives on those issues.”

He talked to representatives from the Cariboo Regional District, District of 100 Mile House, Tolko, West Fraser and Norbord mills, the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation, local ranchers and other stakeholders.

“Our ministry covers a broad section of government, so it’s important to get that broad perspective … on issues of keen interest to our ministry.”

Shared forest tenure issues

Thomson also fielded questions about the ongoing issue of communication between shared forest tenure holders – the cattlemen and the forest companies.

Thomson said he appreciated the work of the Forest Practices Branch [FPB], which reported last March on how forest licensees mitigate breaches in natural range barriers, and recommended that action is needed to resolve disputes and poor communication.

“[The report] recognized that both forestry and the ranchers that are here are … very, very important contributors….

“Our response to that report is to address the recommendations to improve the communications – to work closely between the two. I look forward to doing that work.”

FPB’s investigation found ranchers and forest companies also need to improve co-ordination of their activities and interests.

Thomson said his sense is that this is improving, and steps are being taken to further boost the communication between the two sectors in addressing the report recommendations.

“It’s an ongoing process and about how we make sure the sectors work together engaging

with [these issues].”

He noted there is an accelerated level of logging activity underway in mitigating the impacts of mountain pine beetle.

“We have got to make sure we find that balance, but it’s about how we ensure, when we approve those processes and the plans, that it is taken into consideration when they are working through applications, through forest stewardship plans, through cutting permits … that we understand the interests of both [sectors].

“My direction has been to make sure both parties and both sectors are talking to each other … and working well together.”