Just plain stupid.
That’s how Port Clements mayor Dale Lore describes government policies which are encouraging companies like Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd. to leave huge amounts of salvageable wood rotting on the ground, and use helicopters to log timber which could be logged conventionally.
Mr. Lore is angry about it because when Weyerhaeuser leaves wood on the ground and uses off-island helicopter crews, it costs his small community jobs.
On Monday afternoon (Nov. 17), Mr. Lore and two other council members, Paul Waring and Jukka Efraimsson, spent four and a half hours showing new Ministry of Forests district manager Len Munt around Weyerhaeuser’s tree farm licence, illustrating these problems.
They went first to Rennie Main Road, which Mr. Lore described as a safety and environmental issue. They then visited a helicopter logging stand, which Mr. Lore said could easily have been logged using conventional methods, resulting in more employment for the town. Then it was off to Mamin 18 1/2 K, where Mr. Lore said piles of merchantable timber have been left lying on the ground. Finally, the group visited East Jack, where variable retention logging has resulted in thousands and thousands of cubic metres of blown down hemlock and cedar, he said. This wood has never been salvaged and the hemlock will soon be too rotten to use, he said.
“He saw an eyeopener,” Mr. Lore said, adding that it was Mr. Munt’s first on-the-ground tour of TFL 39. “They are doing some rotten things out there… We’re probably losing 30 to 40 jobs to that heli-logging and at the same time the province is losing a fortune… This is just plain stupid.”
Mr. Lore said he does not blame the company, but the provincial government. The government writes the rules which make it cheaper for companies to helicopter log, and make salvage difficult.
“What’s happening out there, it’s a shock to us as loggers but it shouldn’t be a shock to the ones who made the rules,” he said. “The people with the responsibility, who make the laws, are the real bad guys. Believe it or not, the British Columbia government is the number one enemy here.”
Mr. Munt, who arrived on the islands in late August, said he will do whatever he can to help Port Clements, and suggested that a community forest could be a possible solution.
“I find community forests extremely important,” he said at Monday night’s council meeting, which he attended after the afternoon tour. “A lot of the future of the islands and Port Clements relies on that initiative.”
A couple of small business loggers, Tim Fennell and Marty Decock, also attended the meeting to talk about their frustrations with the system.
Mr. Fennell said the number one problem for local small loggers is wood supply – yet there is salvageable wood lying on the ground all over the TFL, which government policies make almost impossible to access.
“That’s craziness,” he said. “That’s not managing the forest for the public.”
Another issue is the Ministry of Forests decision, earlier this year, to move the administration of the small business program to Chilliwack. It used to be administered from the Queen Charlotte district office.
Mr. Decock told Mr. Munt that the Chilliwack move has already resulted in a road-building contract going to a Chilliwack company instead of someone local.
Mr. Munt said he is going to Chilliwack next week for a meeting, and he will bring these concerns forward.
“I’m here to listen,” he said. “At this point, I don’t have the answers you’re looking for… I am going to try to find you some answers and see if we can’t do something a little more community-oriented.”
Mr. Munt said the TFL tour had been a “great learning opportunity” and praised council members for explaining the issues so well.
He also promised to return to Port the next day to talk to more local small business loggers, before attending a previously scheduled meeting.
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