Talk of amalgamating the Morice and Lakes Timber Supply Areas is false, said Doug Donaldson, the Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development minister. (Lakes District News file photo)

No wood supply merger contemplated, forests minister says

The provincial forests minister has put to rest any notion the provincial government might combine the Morice Timber Supply Area (TSA) surrounding Houston with the Lakes TSA in the Burns Lake area.

Doing so “would negatively impact the forest industry in Houston which many residents depend on economically,” the District of Houston council stated in a briefing note prepared ahead of a meeting between council members and Doug Donaldson, the Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development minister.

The Lakes TSA is now being reassessed to set a new annual allowable cut (AAC) and could be reduced by half of the current 1.648 million cubic metre AAC, leading to worries in that area about wood supply for mills.

The Morice TSA, at 1.9 million cubic metres is to be reassessed next year.

“These two TSAs are located in regions that were badly impacted by both mountain pine beetle infestations and extreme wildfires, factors that will very likely contribute to their respective AACs being set lower upon reevaluation,” the Houston brief noted stated.

A comment about amalgamation was included in a summary analysis of the Lakes TSA, prompting Houston council’s concern.

Further, the analysis included a scenario in which a potential cut of the Lakes TSA to 800,000 cubic metres would consist of half dead and half live timber.

“If dead timber cannot be salvaged, the AAC may be reduced to as much as 400,000 [cubic metres],” the Houston briefing note added.

But a statement from Donaldson’s ministry, following a meeting with Houston council, said he has no plans to modify TSA boundaries.

Still, the statement continued, “there is nothing to restrict forest companies from bidding on timber sales in adjacent TSAs, which would essentially provide the same access as blending the two TSAs.”

And that may be perceived to look like a TSA has been modified, the statement added.

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