Good bye to the small salvage guy in Burns Lake

Possible end of forest service reserve in the Lakes.

The Ministry of Forest, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) is contemplating the end of Forest Service Reserves. This would effectively mean the end of small-scale log salvaging.

In order to maintain the 2012 annual allowable cut (AAC) in the Lakes Timber Supply Area (Lakes TSA) for 2013, the MFLNRO is proposing to eliminate the forest service reserve (FSR).

The FSR is a kind of buffer defining a portion of the forest held back to allow for agricultural, industrial or any other land use requirements that call for the small-scale removal of timber. By reducing the size of FSR in the case of an industrial or pipeline development, apportionments given to licensees out of the AAC do not have to be reduced.

On Aug. 1, 2013, the MFLNRO indicated that the province was considering removing the FSR in order to increase the size of First Nations woodland licenses while preserving the overall AAC for the Lakes TSA.

Essentially, the elimination of the FSR means the elimination of the timber supply buffer between AAC commitments and future demands on the timber supply.

According to the MFLNRO, if future agricultural or industrial development impinges on the working forest, then the AAC of B.C. Timber Sales and replaceable timber harvesting licenses could be reduced to reflect the timber lost to industrial or other activity.

The removal of the FSR also means no future expansion of community forest or woodlot programs in the Lakes TSA, as well as the end of small scale salvaging.

“By eliminating the reserve, there’s absolutely no opportunity for any new entrepreneurs in the district, absolutely none,” said Fort St. James Mayor and regional director Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN)  Rob MacDougall. “I do it in Fort St. James, it’s how I make my living.”

The elimination of small scale salvaging is a move towards concentrating forest operations into the hands of larger licensees who are not necessarily motivated to handle small logging requirements.

This can have consequences that expand beyond the threat to forestry entrepreneurship and possible constraints to future AAC allotments. Fuel mitigation efforts could also be affected.

“A lot of the major licensees won’t go in and remove small quantities of dead wood around communities,” MacDougall said. “By eliminating the reserve, I don’t know who’s going to remove an area of standing timber that has been identified as a hazard.

Directors Bill Miller and Ralph Roy shared MacDougall’s concerns.

“If there is agricultural development or some other development, where does that volume come from?” asked Miller. “Does that mean there can no longer be agricultural development in the Lakes District? Does this preclude any other developments?”

Miller was part of Lakes Timber Health and Salvage (LTHS), until it allowed its license to be transferred to the Burns Lake Community Forest in 2008.

Managing small scale salvaging, LTHS would handle approximately 50 clients in the district, supplying work for approximately 25 small-scale salvage operators.

Those salvage operators would in turn maintain small crews to operate equipment and hire workers, generating considerable employment and opportunity throughout the district.

The RDBN has until Oct. 4, 2013 to submit a response to the ministry’s proposal to eliminate the FSR.