The board of directors of the Chinook Community Forest, Burns Lake’s newest community forest, is pressuring the provincial government to approve Chinook’s forest stewardship plan (FSP).
Chinook’s FSP was first submitted to the provincial government on April 14, 2015. While the approval process can vary from district to district, Ken Nielson, Chinook’s president, said a reasonable timeframe would be two to four months.
“Chinook has been in discussions with the Nadina district staff on the FSP for over a year and a half and believed that there were continuous delays with the process,” explained Nielson.
The Chinook board recently had a meeting with the district manager of the Nadina Forest District in Burns Lake to discuss the delay. Nielson said the meeting has helped move the process along.
“To move the FSP up to the district manager level as the delegated decision maker ensured that this process would finally have a reasonable timeframe and the approval of an important operational document for the community forest,” said Nielson. “Overall, the district manager felt that there were very minor changes that were required and that he was willing to approve it as soon as the changes were done and submitted.”
“We believe at this time the FSP is ready for approval,” added Nielson.
Lakes District News asked the provincial government why the FSP approval has taken longer than anticipated, but the province did not respond by press time.
The FSP won’t be the last required document before harvesting can finally begin at the Chinook Community Forest. Nielson explained that the Chinook board will still have to apply for cutting permits and have them approved by district staff.
“Chinook would hope to be harvesting this coming winter, dependent on receiving cutting permits in a timely matter,” said Nielson.
The Chinook Community Forest is a partnership of two local governments – Village of Burns Lake and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako – and six local First Nations groups – Burns Lake Band, Lake Babine Nation, Cheslatta Carrier Nation, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Skin Tyee Nation and Nee Tahi Buhn First Nation.
Earlier this year, representatives from the two local governments and six First Nations groups involved in the community forest gathered to sign the community forest’s agreement.
During the event Bill Miller, Director of Electoral Area B of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, acknowledged the importance of the new community forest.
“This community forest will help maintain the social and economic fabric of the Burns Lake area by giving many families peace of mind through sustainable employment, keeping dollars in our region,” he said.
Chinook’s forest licence was signed last February and was issued March 31, 2016.