Burns Lake’s newest community forest, Chinook Community Forest, held its first open house last month since operations began in November 2016.
The open house – held both in Burns Lake and on the Southside – allowed the public to ask questions and provide feedback.
However, according to registered professional forester Daniella Oake, the public made no comments about Chinook’s impending annual allowable cut (AAC) reduction. After 2020, Chinook’s AAC will be reduced from 150,000 to 65,000 cubic metres per year. Chinook will then represent only a small portion of the timber needed to supply Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products.
When asked if the Chinook board considers the AAC reduction fair, Oake said the board has no comments on fairness.
“The reduction in AAC in 2020 was always a part of the master plan, and one Chinook was always fully aware of from the get go,” said Oake.
“Chinook was never created to fully support our two local mills,” she continued. “Chinook came about to help with the viability of rebuilding Babine Forest Products [after the 2012 explosion], and help support our two mills along with local economy.”
Steve Zika, Chief Executive Officer of Hampton Affiliates – company that owns Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products -, had a similar response to this question last November, saying he understood government’s decision to reduce Chinook’s AAC after 2020.
“Government did what they believe was the best they could do in the situation without negatively effecting other entities who are also competing for the limited fiber,” said Zika.
During the open house, Oake said the public expressed interest in continued communication from Chinook. She said Chinook’s board considered the open house “successful” and that they will continue to host these public events to improve communication with the public.
The Chinook board has also decided to donate one truckload of firewood to each shareholder – including the six local First Nations communities, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako and the Village of Burns Lake.
Oake explained that since wood is a common heat source for many people in the community, the Chinook board has decided to support people who rely on it.
According to Sheryl Worthing, the village’s chief administrative officer, the village still hasn’t decided how the firewood will be used.
“Staff will come up with some options once we receive it,” said Worthing. “Definitely it will be used to help out those in need or for team fundraising as we have in the past.”