The Burns Lake Community Forest in accordance with the B.C. Community Forest Association is lobbying against the province changing the tabular rate stumpage structure. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

The Burns Lake Community Forest in accordance with the B.C. Community Forest Association is lobbying against the province changing the tabular rate stumpage structure. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

Council backs Burns Lake Community Forest

Resolution submitted to lobby for maintaining tabular rate stumpage structure

Village of Burns Lake council approved a motion during an April 5 meeting to submit a resolution to the North Central Local Government Association (NLGCA) and Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) to lobby the province to maintain the current tabular rate stumpage structure for community forests.

This comes after the Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF) sent an information package to council from the B.C. Community Forest Association (BCCFA) containing reasons not to change the current structure.

The package stated that tabular rates account for the added costs and objectives involved in the management of community forests and provide simplified administration and flexibility that enables innovative forest management that is responsive to community needs and priorities.

The resolution submission from council will read as follows;

• Whereas non-profit community forests currently pay stumpage to the province using the tabular rate system, and the Province is proposing to move community forests to a market-based stumpage system, that will drastically increase the fees paid.

• Whereas non-profit, community forest boards will no longer have the funds available to support socio-economic projects, innovative forest practices including wildfire risk reduction, old growth management, and ecosystem restoration initiatives for the communities they operate in. Community forest organizations will be reduced to completing only the minimal forest practice requirements.

• Therefore be it resolved that the NCLGA and UBCM lobby the province to maintain the current tabular rate stumpage structure for community forests.

READ MORE: Donation from Burns Lake Community Forest

”The proposed timber pricing policy change undermines the ability of community forests to achieve the very objectives and benefits that the government, communities, and First Nations partners seek and value,” Burns Lake Community Forest General Manager Frank Varga told Lakes District News.

“In Burns Lake, our community forest ability to complete these complex innovative projects such as the landscape fire management activities, innovative harvest practices, community support donations and first nation development and capacity building contract opportunities to name just a few are directly tied to the benefits of the current tabular rate system,” he continued.

According to Varga, the Burns Lake Community Forest have donated $152,042.25 to local non-profit and community organizations so far in this current fiscal year, which doesn’t end until November. Since October 2014, they have donated nearly $1.5 million.

A B.C. Government release states that the reason why the province intends to revise area based tenure specific pricing policy is to harmonize the rate structures of community forest agreements, woodlot licenses and First Nations woodlands licences.

“We are fully aware that the current pricing policy of revenue sharing applied to First Nations woodlands licences is inadequate and provides little to no incentive for First Nations to participate in the program. They have long asked for the same pricing arrangement as community forests and woodlot licences, but the ministry has not supported this change. We recommend the province develop a solution for First Nations woodlands licences that does not negatively impact community forests,” the BCCFA Executive Director Jennifer Gunter stated in the package.

READ MORE: Burns Lake awards contract for Prince Rupert export plan


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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
eddie.huband@ldnews.net
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