While the latest annual allowable cut (AAC) reduction puts Decker Lake and Babine Forest Products in a difficult position, no curtailments are expected this winter, said Steve Zika, CEO of Hampton Lumber, the company that owns the two sawmills.
“We have no plans to curtail either sawmill this winter, other than holidays or weather related issues, assuming market conditions do not worsen,” Zika said, referring to lumber versus log prices.
The new AAC determination for the Lakes Timber Supply Area (TSA), announced on Nov. 21, is 970,000 cubic metres — that’s about 41 per cent lower than the previous AAC of 1.6 million cubic metres set in 2016.
“The reality of the challenge we are facing to keep the only two sawmills in our TSA operating at current capacity is daunting,” Zika said last month, adding Hampton Lumber will be working with the provincial government, First Nations leaders and other partners to explore alternatives to meet that challenge.
Zika was asked further questions last week, but would not comment on what those possible alternatives would be.
“At this point in time, I do not want to comment on what potential partnerships or other solutions we might come up with,” Zika said.
The Ministry of Forests said in a statement last week the province continues to work with all licensees, including Hampton Lumber, to get the most value from the forest.
“This includes ways to maximize timber supply within marginal tree stands that were previously uneconomical to harvest,” said Dawn Makarowski, a ministry spokesperson.
Makarowski added that although the new AAC determination is 41 per cent lower than the previous one, it is roughly only six per cent lower than the average harvest over the last two years.
Harvests in 2017-2018 were just above one million cubic metres. Harvest levels have fallen by almost half since 1999, but in almost all years they were below their AAC limits.
The new AAC breaks down into a maximum of 400,000 cubic metres per year for live coniferous volume; up to 20,000 cubic metres per year for live deciduous volume; and a maximum of 550,000 cubic metres per year for dead volume.
The Forest Act states that the chief forester must determine the AAC in each of the province’s 37 timber supply areas and 34 tree farm licenses at least once every 10 years.
—With files from Blair McBride