Politics in View

Politics and BC Forestry are never far from making news. A weekend story in The Vancouver Sun (see Future of sawmill industry jobs jeopardized by overharvesting) suggests issues surrounding timber harvest volumes into a hoped-for post-beetle era remain contentious. Some outtakes:

  • “Companies operating around the sawmill town of Houston overshot the volume of green non-pine timber they were expected to log by the equivalent of almost 29,000 logging truckloads between 2009 and 2013, after limits were set in 2008. ‘That’s green wood that was supposed to be there for the midterm harvest,’ said NDP forestry critic Norm Macdonald.”
  • “..the issue around Houston is whether the province is allowing companies to steal timber supplies from the forest now that could have been used to maintain jobs in the future.”
  • “’For them to be hitting that (green timber) harder than they should, and not be held accountable for it, it’s an issue for sure,’ said Bill Holmberg, the mayor of Houston where West Fraser Timber is set to close its sawmill on May 9 – at the cost of 225 jobs – as part of its strategy to cope with reduced future timber supplies.”
  • “’The switch from harvesting dead pine trees to live non-pine trees means the midterm timber supply is starting to be cut now and not five to 10 years in the future,’ said Tim Ryan, of the BC Forest Practices Board. ‘That means the (reductions) to (annual harvest) may happen sooner rather than later.’”
  • “..there is an argument to be made that in areas such as the Morice, which were hit first and hardest by the beetle infestation starting in about 1999, loggers have reached the midterm, according to Doug Routledge, VP at the Council of Forest Industries.”
  • “Routledge argued that other timber supply areas are at, or close to hitting, midterm conditions – areas around Burns Lake, Vanderhoof, Prince George and Quesnel, which have been at the heart of the beetle infestation.”
  • “Forest Minister Steve Thomson said the overharvest hasn’t gone unnoticed and he expects the companies to stay within their harvest limits until new harvest levels are set.”
  • “Chief Forester Dave Peterson said that around Houston, if loggers can’t stay within their limits for non-pine harvest, they won’t be allowed to harvest their complete timber quota, although he acknowledges they are close to exhausting dead pine.”

As more timber supply areas in this province approach the end of salvageable dead pine, some might be asking how we reconcile projections for offshore shipments to keep growing year after year.

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