Local governments lobby for timber sales

Province asked to take full allowable cut to market

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) directors have endorsed a resolution to be tabled at the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) conference on May 6-8.

It wants NCLGA to lobby for the provincial government to deliver the full allowable annual cut (AAC) under the BC Timber Sales (BCTS) program.

Furthermore, the CRD wants the province to perform a complete, science-based inventory of the available timber supply.

CRD chair Al Richmond says the BCTS gets allocated a certain portion of the AAC in the 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel forest districts.

“What’s happening is, [BCTS] isn’t making that fibre available all the time – they withhold it. Then it artificially drives up the cost of purchasing timber for the other licensees to put it into production.”

Because the BCTS “sits on and does nothing with” this allocated timber rather than putting it on the market, it is not available for licensees to purchase – and it should be, he adds.

“When they do that, they actually now drive the price of timber up for other things, too – private timber and everything else.”

With the Williams Lake Forest District cut reduced to 3.3 million cubic metres last year, and Quesnel and 100 Mile House next up in expected AAC reductions, Richmond notes local governments and mills are watching to see how much of a chunk the BCTS will be allocated.

“Given that we’re going back down to [less than] pre-2004 levels, if the BCTS just sits on it, it is going to further reduce the amount of timber that’s available to the licensees and to the mills for cutting….

“[The province] needs to look at this, and the detailed inventory is critical. When you have someone who has the allowable cut, they should at least be marketing the majority of it – that’s the opinion that is being expressed and that is the concern.”

In 2003, the BCTS was founded as a semi-autonomous program within the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) under a mandate to provide the cost and price benchmarks for timber harvested from public land in the province.

It manages about 20 per cent of the Crown AAC throughout 12 business areas – one of these being the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

Ministry spokesperson Vivian Thomas says the goal of the BCTS is to provide credible data for the market pricing system through auctions of public timber.

Recent objectives by the BCTS include selling its full AAC over the business cycle, with each business area developing plans to sell annually no less than 90 per cent of its AAC, subject to local area demand and supply factors, she explains.

“When market demand permits, business areas will target sales of accumulated undercuts, and marginal economic and poor quality timber.”

The District of 100 Mile House council has also endorsed the NCLGA resolution.

With files from the Williams Lake Tribune.