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Big questions for Bruce Ralston, Ministry of Forest



Open letter to Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests

RE: Lakes Forest District, Forest Licences and Mill Shutdowns

On behalf of the residents of the Lakes District I am writing this letter. I live here because it provides me with the opportunities that I am looking for to raise my families, affordable housing, good jobs, the amenities I need, a safe and friendly community, a healthy economy and back country access to unique parts of the province.

Some us hunt, fish, camp, hike and recreate in the local area. These are all important aspects as to why I chose to live here.

The forest industry is vital to the wellbeing of our families, our friends, the communities in the Lakes District and our local economy. This letter is to stress our concern about the recent West Fraser mill closure which is located in the Stewart Nechako Forest District but has always held a timber license in the Lakes District.

I assume West Fraser will continue to bleed wood out of the Lakes District to other West Fraser mills, or in trade, making it even more challenging for Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products to survive. This now means their closest mills are even further outside the Lakes District - being located in Smithers and Quesnel. In addition to having a licence in the Lakes District West Fraser also took key strategic operating areas from the Babine and Decker licences and made it West Fraser’s operating area when they owned BFP and DLFP. West Fraser also received significant uplift for harvest of mountain pine beetle in the Lakes Forest District with reduced stumpage to haul to Smithers. West Fraser has greatly benefited by having a licence in the Lakes District and taking timber from that licence outside the Lakes District for many years as well as taking strategic operating area from the Babine and Decker licenses within the Lakes.

I am hopeful that Babine and Decker operating areas will be returned to Babine and Decker. I am also hopeful that the West Fraser licence will be awarded to First Nations, community forests and/or local sawmills so that a multinational corporation does not take a local resource out of the area with little to no benefit, or say, for local First Nations, our community, our residents and our local sawmills.

First Nations received very small additional annual harvest levels in the most recent Lakes Timber Supply Apportionment process- due to the significantly reduced cut post mountain pine beetle. This would be an opportunity to award additional licence volume, and area, to First Nations in the Lakes District.

I am calling on the Provincial Government to intimately participate in this process and implement solutions for the long-term prosperity of all communities and stakeholders within the Lakes District. The Provincial Government has committed to supporting and maintaining rural forest based communities and increasing First Nations inclusion and ownership in the forest industry - we are optimistic you will fulfill those commitments through this current opportunity.

I respectfully ask for a written response to my letter as soon as possible as this is an urgent matter for the Lakes District and all of its residents.


On behalf of the residents of the Lakes District, George Penner