Letter writer offers Forest Planning 101

I am concerned with the growing community division related to the harvest of damaged forests in the Upper Clearwater valley

Editor, The Times:

I am concerned with the growing community division related to the harvest of damaged forests in the middle elevations of the Upper Clearwater valley.

Most of the discussion in the press has not clearly identified the facts. It is the type of polarized dialogue that is reminiscent of the 1990s when there were a lot of government led initiatives to identify land use objectives (the Protected Area Strategy, the Kamloops Land and Resource Management Plan).

There is no proposal to harvest in Wells Gray Park as the caption on a recent submission to the editor boldly stated. Canfor has a forest license that allows the harvest of timber on Crown land in the provincial forest. This is also referred to by some as the “working forest”.

The slopes on either side of the Clearwater River, above current park and private land, are located in the provincial forest. The size of the forest industry is basically defined by the growing capacity of the “working forest”. Area removed from the “working forest” reduces the industrial capacity of the forest industry and the associated revenues paid to the Crown.

Forest activities on the provincial forest are required to be consistent with government objectives, which for the Upper Clearwater are based on the Forest Range and Practices Act and a subset of the objectives included in the Kamloops Land and Resource Management Plan.

These objectives include, but are not limited to, visual quality objectives, water quality and quantity, species at risk; values (concerns) that are being expressed in the press.

Registered professional foresters (RPFs) are required to prepare road and harvest plans that are consistent with these government objectives. This often involves other professionals (hydrologists, biologists, geotechnical engineers) that review the landscapes that are being considered for harvest, advise the professional forester on risk to the values that they have specific knowledge of, and usually make recommendations to lower risk. This could include recommendations of no harvest.

Local knowledge is really important as, while we do have local professional foresters that have a good understanding of the areas that they operate in, other professionals often come from more centralized locations.

The challenge is to offer local knowledge in a constructive rather than a destructive manner. It is also important for all interests to be open (receptive) to new information and to be respectful of each viewpoint. This usually leads to a more positive and satisfying outcome!

I look forward to continued dialogue as Canfor seeks the solution to harvest of the damaged lodgepole pine stands in its operating area, especially those located in community interface locations.

These are a higher priority to be working on for several reasons:

* these stands are declining in value and soon will be a liability to the working forest rather than an opportunity,

* depending on their location, these stands may become a high fuel hazard risk to adjacent values (this may include wildlife values),

* it is a priority to be working in these damaged stands before queuing up harvest in healthy timber.

Clearwater has survived a couple of rough business cycles for both the tourism and the forest industries.  Survival was likely the result of the current economic diversification that exists. I think that we should agree that the success of Clearwater depends on both industries and that strategically, these industries should be using their energies to help each other rather than fight with each other.

As a community, let’s be proud of the “resource” base that provides us with both work and play opportunities and cooperatively work toward solutions that maintain the balance that is so necessary for the high quality of life that we are so fortunate to have.

Wes Bieber, RPF

 

Clearwater, B.C.