Legislative Session: Fourth Session, 39th Parliament
Special Committee on Timber Supply
This is a DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY of debate in one sitting of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. This transcript is subject to corrections, and will be replaced by the final, official Hansard report. Use of this transcript, other than in the legislative precinct, is not protected by parliamentary privilege, and public attribution of any of the debate as transcribed here could entail legal liability.
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON
FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2012
The committee met at 2:04 p.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our meeting of the Special Committee on Timber Supply. My name is John Rustad. I'm the MLA for Nechako Lakes and the Chair of our committee.
I'll start off with introductions, starting on my right.
D. Barnett: Donna Barnett, MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
B. Stewart: Good afternoon. I'm Ben Stewart. I'm the MLA for Westside-Kelowna.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Good afternoon. Norm Macdonald, the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke.
H. Bains: Good afternoon. Harry Bains, MLA for Surrey-Newton.
B. Routley: Hi. Bill Routley, MLA for Cowichan Valley.
J. Rustad (Chair): With us today also is Craig James, our Clerk of the House. At the back is Jacqueline Quesnel. Jacqueline is taking down anybody's names who's interested in giving us presentations.
If anybody who has come in would like to give us a presentation, make sure you please check in with Jacqueline. Also, all of the proceedings of this committee are recorded and become part of the history of B.C. They are broadcast to our website live, and today we have with us our Hansard crew, which is Michael Baer and Jean Medland.
The Special Committee on Timber Supply was struck in May with a mandate to look at the impact of the mountain pine beetle epidemic on our mid-term fibre supply and to look at trying to find options to help to mitigate some of that impact. It's a fairly significant issue across the area impacted by the pine beetle, which arguably stretches from the Smithers-Houston area down to 100 Mile House or into the Kamloops-Merritt area.
Over the mid-term, once we get out of the useful life of that pine beetle, there will be a drop of our annual allowable cut by about ten million cubic metres per year. To put that in perspective, that's about enough wood to meet the needs of about eight fairly sizeable sawmills. So it's a very significant issue. What the committee has been tasked with, as I mentioned, is to look at mitigation issues.
Our purpose in coming out to do community consultation is to talk to communities, First Nations and individuals about what forestry means for them; what the issues are that they would like us to consider and think about; what sort of components they feel may be helpful in terms of mitigation or not, in terms of what some of those options are; and, I guess, just any other general feedback that people may want to share with us on forestry.
We have entered into the phase of the public consultations. We started this week on Monday in Smithers and Houston. We've done two communities a day along the Highway 16 corridor. This morning we were in Valemount, and this afternoon we're in McBride.
The consultations will continue on the 5th and 6th of July in 100 Mile House, Quesnel, Williams Lake and Prince George. Then we will have three days of provincial meetings on the 9th to 11th of July and then a final day of community consultation in the Merritt and Kamloops area on the 12th of July.
For anybody that doesn't get an opportunity to present to us in public, there is an opportunity to present information to us on line or via regular mail. People can find the contact information associated with that at our website, which is www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee. People have until July 20 to be able to submit written presentations to our committee.
Once we've received all of the written submissions, we'll be compiling all of that information and then, as a committee, sitting down and trying to come up with recommendations, which have to go into a final report to the Legislature by August 15.
So starting off with today…. Sorry, I always seem to miss this. With our committee, we also have two special advisors that have been appointed to assist our committee from a technical perspective. They are former chief foresters of the province of British Columbia — Jim Snetsinger and Larry Pedersen. Larry has been travelling with us this week and is here with us today in McBride.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to recognize the MLA for the area, the Hon. Shirley Bond, who was with us this morning in Valemount as well and who has travelled here to McBride. Thank you, Shirley, for taking some time to participate with us as well.
At this time I would like to welcome our first presenters from the village of McBride — Raj Basran and Marc von der Gonna. Our process is to have a presentation from you and then a bit of a round-table discussion. Then we will immediately go into the availability for other presenters to present to our committee. So with that I'll turn it over to you. Welcome.
M. von der Gonna: Thank you. I'll be the main spokesperson for the village this afternoon. First off, I'd like to start by thanking the committee for this opportunity and for travelling to McBride. Certainly, we've seen some of the committee members before. Donna Barnett and Ben Stewart were here with the rural caucus previously.
Myself, I'm the general manager with the McBride Community Forest Corp. I'm here today as a representative of the village of McBride because the McBride Community Forest Corp. is wholly owned by the village.
A little background on myself. I've been a registered professional forester in British Columbia since 1990, so for 22 years, and I've spent the last 31 years pursuing an education and career in forestry. I hold a bachelor's and a master's degree in forestry, and I've been the general manager here for the community forest for the past nine years. Prior to that, for nearly 12 years I was with the Ministry of Forests in branch, region and district, and, most recently, as the last acting district manager of the Robson Valley forest district.
The McBride Community Forest Corp. — we're also an active member of the B.C. Community Forest Association. I'm entering my tenth year as a director of that association and am currently a vice-president.
I've been a resident of McBride since 1998, so for the last 14 years, and my wife and I plan to die here if all works out, but that won't be for quite some time. We have two girls that we raised, and they're both currently pursuing post-secondary education in Prince George.
Raj Basran, who is joining me here today, is a newly elected councillor with the village of McBride. He was elected this past fall. He's one of our local small-market loggers that work within the community forest. He's also a local businessman and owner of ventures in forestry retail and tourism in McBride, so he has vast first-hand experience with all those different sectors. He's been here for the last ten years and is currently raising a young family here in McBride.
Do you want to add to that, Raj?
R. Basran: No, I'd just like to thank you guys for coming out here and taking an opportunity to listen to the communities here. Hopefully it'll be helpful there. Feel free to ask any questions or whatever, and we'll be glad to answer them.
M. von der Gonna: Okay. First off, I'll just start off with a summary of our position statement. That is basically that we feel the best way to mitigate the negative economic and social impacts on communities caused by the decreasing timber supply would be to expand the community forests in the Robson Valley timber supply area.
The village's position is that any new allocations must be made to local community forests ahead of other licensees or the non-resident First Nations that claim territory in this area. We do not want the committee to allow the volume of the Robson Valley TSA to be sucked out into the neighbouring Prince George district at the expense of our local jobs and our local economy.
Our rationale for this is that community forests are in the best position of any other form of tenure, any other licensee, to provide a direct benefit back to the community in terms of both employment and revenue. Community forests in general provide a higher level of jobs per cubic metre of wood harvested than the major licensees, and we also facilitate the diversification of the local forest-based economy, including other sectors such as recreation.
The simplest way to put it is that for us, whether someone is making a career as a photographer or as an artist or an artisan, it's just as important to the community as someone with a career as a logger or somebody milling wood. So we look at it as a more global perspective on our local economy.
We manage the landscape for all the special features and values provided by the forest land surrounding the community. The community forest is managed with the full input and support of the local public, and we manage the whole cut in terms of the species grade and specialty products. As a community forest, we operate in highly constrained areas and extract timber from areas where major licensees may not have access.
What we think is needed is not a relaxing of standards but tenure reform on a broad scale. We think B.C. needs to get to a true log market, and we feel B.C. will only achieve this when 50 percent or more of the volume available is out of the hands of major licensees.
Just for an example, currently there are 1.502 million cubic metres in the community forest program as a whole across the province. That represents 55 active or invited community forests. Currently we are requesting that community forests in general provincially are looking at another 1.07 million for immediate expansion.
In contrast, Canfor, out of Prince George, in the one TSA alone has three licences: one at 1.597 million, which is, totally, more than the whole community forest program provincially; a second one at 1.1 million, which is more than our whole expansion request that we're asking for; and a third at 588,000. So you can see that for what we do and the benefit we produce, it pales in comparison to what's in the hands of the major licensees.
We think that the current model undervalues the timber resource, and if we move to area-based tenures, more intensively managed timber areas, this could free up the land base for community forest expansion. By doing this, we think that it would satisfy two of the goals of the committee because community forests would be able to access previously constrained wood with the blessing of the public. It would put more wood into the hands of the majors because the commodity wouldn't go there anyway, and like I said, we would also be able to access these highly constrained areas that you're looking at potential relaxation of standards in.
Basically, we feel that today's discussions are really about jobs and economic stability created through access and control of the timber forest resource. We also think that the forest resource is, as owned by the Crown…. Government needs to increase its investment in forest resources, specifically in terms of reforestation in areas affected by fire and pests. The land base investment program strategy right now, while it's doing some good work, is too little and needs to be increased.
We see that over time markets will change, but there is value in the land. That's why area-based tenures in the hands of a community, which is a stable entity, is the way to go. We also think that government needs to invest more in inventory and work on their knowledge of tree growth and stand growth as opposed to free-growing. That way, we'd better understand how our mid-term timber supply is growing out there on the land base.
Currently, the measurement and allocation of allowable cut is based on a sawlog, 2-by-4 mentality, and yes, while B.C. is very good at making boards and 2-by-4s, we think that there are other things that we could be equally as good at if we try.
Here, specifically to the Robson Valley, Carrier Lumber is our larger major licensee. Their cut is based on a timber profile that they can't fully use or they won't access — specifically the cedar-hemlock portion of the profile, the Douglas fir portion, high-cost areas and falldown grades. One thing we do have here, though, is a deciduous partition, so that's allowed for in another way.
In your discussion paper there were five points that the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations outlined, and we'd like to address those in order.
The first point was, as potential options: "harvesting some of the areas currently constrained from timber harvest in order to support other resource values." We think it's possible to do this, but again, not under the typical industrial forestry model. The McBride Community Forest has been innovative with retention harvesting systems, our small market logger program and by targeting the specialty products. We think that's one way to access these currently constrained areas.
The second point was "increasing the harvest of marginally economic timber." McBride has been looking at opportunities in the bioenergy sector, especially as a result of the recent hydro announcement. Given the large falldown that we have here from gross to net merchantable volume in the Robson Valley TSA — especially in our interior cedar-hemlock stands — we believe that there is a viable solution here, especially if this would be coupled with volume from Prince George east, where there is also a substantial interior cedar-hemlock area.
The third point from the ministry was suggesting to change "the flow of timber by adjusting administrative boundaries or accelerating timber availability." Again, this meets in nicely with what we've been saying for a while now in that we would like to have access to some of the volume in the Prince George east TSA.
As well, when community forests were put on the land base, part of the landscape units that were set up to manage for biodiversity and other values now don't match our community forest boundaries and our area-based tenures. So we think that a realignment of some of these landscape unit boundaries to match our own community forest boundaries would be a big help.
The fourth point the ministry had was "shifting to more area-based tenures and associated more intensive forest management." We believe this may be a solution to free up areas for community forest expansion. If you were to focus the major licensees in sort of an industrial model on the easily accessible land for maximum fibre production, we think that would help focus their efforts and generate the product that they would need. This would free up land, like I said, for community forest expansion.
We think that there needs to be certainty on the land base for major licensees, absolutely, and this would be especially good if it could be coupled with the land in First Nations tenures out there as well.
The fifth option the ministry put forward was "increasing the level of intensive forest management through fertilization and other advanced silviculture activities." Fertilization is an attractive option, especially in putting an increment on mid-age or near-mature growing stock, so we would support that.
However, we believe a far greater benefit here would be the reforestation of denuded and the rehabilitation of impacted areas. It's not just the mountain pine beetle, but here, prior to the beetle, we had the hemlock looper infestation — which, sadly, hasn't been fully addressed. A lot of the focus on funding has been towards beetle areas, and the looper-killed areas haven't been eligible for the funding, so that's something that needs to be addressed.
We also feel that the committee shouldn't forget about the gains that can be had from a better inventory and especially, like I mentioned before, the measurement of mid-term growing stock.
In your discussion paper you asked five questions of the public, and I'd like to go through those as well, briefly. The first was: "What values and principles should guide the evaluation and decision-making regarding potential actions to mitigate the timber supply impacts?"
We feel that community economic stability should be placed first, as your first priority. Decisions should be information-based; i.e., get a better inventory. Don't compromise environmental values. Perhaps look for opportunities within social values such as visual-quality objectives, and take a broader view of the services and the economy the forest land base provides — not just timber or sawlogs, as I've alluded to.
The second question was: "How should decisions regarding potential actions to mitigate the timber supply impacts be made, and by whom?" We feel it should be decided by provincial and municipal governments in consultation, implemented by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations but with local offices to put people back on the land base so they have an understanding of what's going on.
Perhaps you noticed — and I'll just do a little aside here — the empty Ministry of Forests office building that was located on the highway. In 1995, at the height of the Forest Practices Code, there were 45 full-time positions on the org chart for that office. Now we're down to a field office with just a handful of positions in there.
In the ten years of the McBride Community Forest's existence, we've actually changed districts and regions three times, and we haven't moved. We're currently on our seventh district manager, so there's no continuity of oversight here at all, and we'd like to see that come back to the land base, perhaps with a FrontCounter B.C. office or an expanded office here in town.
The third question was: "What specific information about your local area would you like the committee to know and consider?" Again, I think I have till 2:30, so I'll just give a little bit of history of the Robson Valley TSA. It has a small cut, roughly 600,000 cubic metres. If you contrast this to Prince George, which is at 12 million to 15 million cubic metres, it's just what a major licensee, if it had it all, would consider a small licence.
We're in a highly constrained but beautiful land base, and really, the timber harvesting land base is only 17 percent of the full land base that you're looking at here. To contrast that, we've got 20 percent of the land base that's tied up in parks and protected areas, so there's actually more designated park area than there is timber-harvesting land base in the TSA.
Pine, lodgepole pine, on average is about 13 percent of the species mix, so it isn't the same as the higher-pine-percentage TSAs that you've travelled through, but one of the constraints here is that there's a high cost to log our timber.
A lot of it is on side slopes and in back valleys, with high road construction and a lot of cable logging. Like I said, in the 1990s there was a hemlock looper outbreak here, which impacted the TSA and the growing stock.
Over the years the TSA supported two small mills — small compared to current mill size of the major licensees: a veneer mill in McBride, which for years was Zeidler Forest Products, and a sawmill in Valemount that went through various owners.
We have six non-resident First Nations bands, the main two being the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George and the Simpcw in Barriere, that claim part or all of this area.
The impact of the mountain pine beetle epidemic was felt here earlier than in most TSAs, in that when the uplifts occurred and the main push in logging went on and the mills were running at three shifts and getting highly efficient, the small family-run mills here just couldn't compete with the highly efficient mills in Prince George, Quesnel, etc. So we saw a closure of our mills and the impact of the beetle well before the beetle impact was going to be felt in these other communities.
We did, however, like I said, over the last number of years establish three community forests on the land base: the McBride community forest ten years ago, and our cut is 50,000 cubic metres; the Valemount community forest, which has been operating now for a handful of years, and their cut is 40,000 cubic metres, but they do have an uplift right now; and the Dunster community forest of 15,000 cubic metres, which is just now getting going.
Currently Carrier Lumber is operating here. They bought the forest licences and the mill in Valemount, which they then dismantled and sold off. The licence for the MFI mill here, which is still sitting there but not bought…. They're currently logging the pine, but they're logging and accessing the easiest, low-cost wood. As well, a couple of years ago there was a bit of a controversial transfer of volume from their compensation licence from the Prince George TSA to here, in which they were able to, again, extract more volume from this TSA and take it to Prince George.
Currently, what we have been able to supply here over the years, in terms of a value-added industry…. There are three cedar post-and-rail mills in McBride of various sizes. There are a small number of specialty mills, the largest being Hauer Bros., Tête Jaune. There's a wood flooring company here in town that works with one of these small specialty mills. They kiln-dry their own wood and mill it up.
Most recently Crescent Spur Hardwoods has established in Crescent Spur. They employ approximately seven people. They've been a success story for us. They came up here. They had a mill in Clearwater, and they have a market in Japan. They produce just small chunks, rectangles of wood, which they saw green. They're about the size of these name plates. They freeze them, and then they ship them over to Japan frozen.
Where they take them over there, they dry them and laminate them up. They slice them into these paper-thin veneers and apply them to engineered flooring. This mill is able to operate on about 2,500 cubic metres of wood a year and keep five to seven people working. They've worked with us to target wood that the majors would just push over or log around or not use at all.
By doing that, we're able to, like I say, diversify our economy. It's a very specific market. Like I said, they decided it was more important for them to move a second mill here to McBride and establish, rather than truck the wood out of our area. We certainly welcome and try and work with all of these small mills to get going here.
We use the model that with a community forest, if you want to encourage a value-added mill to come here, you don't have to force them to manage a licence or to harvest wood that they don't need. It's sort of akin to saying: "Well, if you want to have a bakery, you have to run the farm and grow your own wheat." We say: "Well, if there's a market for the wheat, you don't need to do that."
Specifically, opportunities we see for McBride…. We look at the cedar-hemlock areas, which are currently being underutilized, and deciduous areas. I've already talked about rejigging the administrative boundaries and providing us access to the highly constrained yet valuable areas in Prince George east. I'm talking about the areas that contain the ancient forests, the cedar-hemlock areas — certainly high biodiversity values there but also high ecotourism values there. That's something that we would actively work to protect and enhance. We feel that an area-based tenure is the best way to manage that.
West Twin Protected Area — again, there may be opportunities there. It currently bisects our community forest, so there may be opportunities for entry in there as well.
The fourth question you asked was: "What cautions and advice do you have for this committee in considering whether and how to mitigate mid-term timber supply?" Again, we think that, in general, it'd be good to have a better inventory.
Secondly, don't overreact. Industry market forces will take care of themselves. Something that we think might be the best species 20 years from now…. Something that we think is a weed right now might be the best wood. An example, like I said, is with the birch. This past winter we got almost a higher value for the birch than we did for the spruce logs. You never know what's going to happen with the market.
As well, we would advise you to exercise caution when removing environmental constraints.
Basically, and finally under that point, the land base and its ability to grow trees isn't going anywhere. The communities in the province need to take a long-term approach to managing forests. Again, we feel community-based tenures are the way to go with that.
Finally, you asked: "How would you, as an individual or a community, want to be engaged in these considerations going forward?" Certainly, what we've said is that we would like community control of the resources through community forests or to have a full seat at the decision-making table.
In closing, I'd just like to state again that the best way, we feel, to mitigate the negative economic and social impacts on communities caused by the decrease in timber supply would be to expand the community forest in the Robson Valley TSA. Again, any new allocations must be made to local community forests ahead of other licensees or First Nations. Please do not allow the volume of the Robson Valley TSA to be sucked out into neighbouring P.G. at the expense of local jobs and the local economy.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. I'll look to members for questions.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): First, thank you for the presentation and thank you for arranging the beautiful weather here in McBride. Very well done.
I take the point on the inventory and the reforestation. I mean, essentially what you're saying is the record on investment is better with that than with some of the other methods that have been discussed. Thank you for that.
The question specifically is…. Your cut is 50,000. Presumably, it's making money. Maybe you can just explain the finances of it, because we have different community forests and different sizes, then maybe some idea about what sort of size is something that you think would be more optimal for the community so that you would get opportunities with manufacturing and so on.
M. von der Gonna: We had this same sort of discussion with the forestry round table with Pat Bell and his group. We had said that, for us, 200,000 would be a good number to shoot for; 50,000 is enough to provide for a full-time manager and to do certain things, but right now…. We've made money in the past. The last couple of years we've lost money, but we have kept people working and, through that, harvested our full cut.
What we've done is…. We've tried a number of different things, but we basically run two programs. One we call our small market logger program, where we have individuals — like Raj here — who have some equipment. They want to do some logging. We sublicence them. We give them an area. They go in and log and market their own wood — seek out specialty products, speciality markets, that sort of thing — and just pay us an administrative fee which we use to cover our own administrative costs, silviculture, roadbuilding, that sort of thing.
The second program is where we do a more conventional…. Here's a block. We contract log it, and we sell it into the market and make money that way.
Over the last couple of years our small market loggers, because their margins have decreased, have needed more and more volume to stay going. We've shifted almost all our volume into that program. It hasn't been a moneymaker for us, but it's kept people working, so that's what we've done.
The other thing that has been a success with our small market logger program is that by having them seek out their own specialty markets for their wood, we've taken my ability to market wood as one person, or my field guy's to market wood, and now we've expanded it to 20 people, all looking for little markets.
When we ran the numbers for the forestry round table, we found that about 75 percent of our wood still went to major licensees, major mills, but 25 percent of it went into all these other different little specialty markets.
When we tracked, it actually went to 53 different scale sites across the province in terms of where the wood from just this one community forest was going. It was log home manufacturers, little specialty mills, post-and-rail cedar guys, guys looking for tone wood for carving musical soundboards for pianos and guitars — all those different kinds of aspects. We were satisfying all those markets.
I think it's a good model that should be expanded.
D. Barnett: Thank you for your presentation. Back to your marketing, I understand that you do utilize the model that was put out there by the pine beetle coalitions for the website. It has been a great success in moving wood and moving products and sharing, etc.
Do you find that that has helped?
M. von der Gonna: I think so. We haven't used it as much ourselves. We've put a few sales on that. I'm not sure if Raj has or not. We certainly backed and supported the creation.
Donna's talking about WoodSource B.C. It's an interactive website where we're trying to link the buyers and sellers of wood. People that need a specialty type of log or whatnot can sort of advertise on there.
Say I need 100 cubic metres of Douglas fir of this dimension. Small market loggers, woodlots, private land holders, community forests can post on there: "Hey, I've got this wood. It's available." The idea is that it's kind of like speed dating for buyers and sellers.
We think it's starting to take root. There's a project now being proposed, Bridges 2, to try and take it one step further and create some economic clusters of activities.
We just had our community forest association meeting in Kaslo, where we met a number of the small licensees and manufacturers down there — Kalesnikoff and others. There's a real synergy there. If you could get just over that hurdle — where you had enough volume, enough control and enough people putting wood on the market — you could create those….
You know, instead of one mill with 200 jobs, you might have ten mills, each with five to ten jobs, but you'd have so much diversity and stability in your economy. It could really get you somewhere.
You talked about: why do we need to be bigger than 50,000? We had a guy that said if we could source him just, I think it was, about 5,000 cubic metres of tone wood a year, he could have a 15-person mill here in town, milling up guitar blanks. We just need to have a big enough size to access enough of that specialty wood to get over the hump.
R. Basran: Just to add to that. I'll give a little bit of history on myself. I came into the valley about ten or 15 years ago, basically no knowledge of logging whatsoever. We started out actually just doing straight shake wood with cedar and somehow got into the community forest for fibre and stuff.
Over the years we — myself and my wife — have grown our logging contract, basically, to a retail store in town. We also now have recreational cabins out on our property — 33 acres. Altogether, it has created about five to ten ongoing jobs, part-time, that wouldn't be there if it were some of the bigger outfits that had it.
What has happened in the…. Well, five or six years ago I could go into that bush with a chainsaw and one skidder and strictly fell straight house logs or straight specialty product. The problem that has come up is that those markets have deteriorated. The value of wood has gone from…. You used to get $140. It's gone down to $85. So we can't keep up with that same program.
But the wood through the community forest…. What that allows us to do is still do that program, but we have to get a little bit more wood in order to accomplish those goals and to make the same kind of money.
With the bigger — like, for example, Carrier…. We have no control over that. With community forests, I can go out there and I can send a load into the local mill here or over there, into Crescent Spur or wherever. With the bigger outfits, I've just got to go straight with them.
Your other problem that comes into this is that the big mills pay for volume. You're at a set rate. That same amount of volume has to come out and there's a given amount you can make, whereas in the community forest you can take a lot less volume and generate a lot more money by doing a lot more specialty stuff. Being small and still being productive, that gives us the key.
The bottom line: we basically have to expand because of the local small market loggers that are available out there that are trying to survive and keep this community going so that we don't have to go work away from our families all the time.
Overall, I think it's beneficial to expand that way.
J. Rustad (Chair): Two more questions…. Or Donna, do you want to follow up?
D. Barnett: Go ahead.
J. Rustad (Chair): Better to follow up now, because I might not get back to you.
D. Barnett: Just the other question I have is…. I know that program is being successful, and I know that Bridges is coming on, and I know that it'll be of great value, too, through the pine beetle coalitions.
The other question I have…. The Hydro announcement is a great announcement for the whole Robson Valley. I know last year, when we were here with the rural caucus, that was something we heard all the way up and down the valley. What part will your community play in that particular project?
M. von der Gonna: We're hoping that…. The current proponent that is forming the bioenergy portion of that wants us to be their main supplier of wood. If there was any sort of receiving licence or expanded licence that they got from that, they'd like us to manage that.
Certainly when you're talking about the falldown here, we have differences in gross volume that's growing on the site that could be used for bioenergy compared to net volume, that merchantable volume which is the sawlog component of that. The falldown is as much as 45 percent.
We think that there is a whole segment of volume there that hasn't been accessed at all and that could be into that sector. It's hard to make into pellets, because cedar is kind of dry, it's combustible, and it doesn't stick well together. Hemlock is wet and heavy. Just trying to blend all that together is really tough, but burning it for energy is good. We think with that, plus all the marginally economic stands that have, say, a low-merchantable component, if you looked at the gross volumes, they're all of a sudden economically viable to log.
We think there's a bit of untapped volume out there that we could go after, and certainly, that would help us tremendously.
J. Rustad (Chair): Two more questions.
B. Stewart: Thanks very much, Marc. I just wanted to ask you about the constraints that we're looking at in terms of visual quality, old-growth management and the others. Do you see some flexibility or ways of looking at those constraints and some utilization within them through…?
I got a couple of comments here that just made me believe that you thought that there were some ways to work within those and perhaps do some extraction out of them.
M. von der Gonna: Absolutely. I mean, certainly we operate in one of the most highly constrained areas of the whole TSA. I always say it's kind of like The Lion King, where he holds up Simba and says: "Everything the light touches is yours." Well, if you stand in downtown and you look around, that's where we operate — right?
We've gotten around the typical visual constraints — where, you know, you cut a block and it has a visual impact, and then you have to leave that landscape until it greens up and till you can harvest something else.
We go in with our retention systems. We might harvest but leave 40 percent of the volume standing and go on, uneven-aged management. We don't have those adjacency constraints that the licensees would have on a block-by-block harvesting system.
The second constraint you talked about was….
B. Stewart: Well, no, just in general.
M. von der Gonna: Then in terms of the old-growth management areas, right now there's sort of…. Like, here's an old-growth management area: hands off — right? It's reserved from harvesting.
The kind of harvesting we do, again, with our retention system preserves a lot of the old-growth values that are there by retaining larger decadency or hemlock stems in the land base. We think there may be opportunities to say: "Okay, maybe there can be some harvesting in these OGMAs through retention systems, and you'll still preserve the old-growth characteristics and values of that stand."
I think that's something that we've certainly piloted here, and it could be looked at quite intensively to see if that's one way to relax on those standards.
B. Stewart: Okay. That's great, and that's what we're looking for: innovation and ideas.
The last one. You seem to have also piloted…. Like this idea that you've got so many small users of your community forest. How do you go out and market, or how could we help enhance reaching out and finding more developing markets for community forests? I mean, I don't know how you're doing it currently. What's your approach, and what could we do to do better?
M. von der Gonna: Certainly, our current approach is just by enabling all these small market loggers to do their own marketing. We've kind of increased our marketing team — that fold.
Part of the problem is with either the small market loggers or the small manufacturers. They've got a specialty, they know how to build something, but maybe their expertise isn't in marketing. So a lot of these guys, I think, need that extra step in terms of…. I think the interactive website, the fact that it's free, was a big step. I think trying to go and provide them with some more marketing expertise — you know, services available, whether it's through Community Futures programs, or what have you….
I know the province has spent a lot of money on major trips overseas representing large products, but maybe a similar focus on some of the smaller-end items, whether it's the log homes or certain types of flooring or whatever.
I'm not sure. I don't have all the answers on that one.
B. Routley: Thank you for your presentation. I have a couple of questions. One would be the percentage of the community forest that actually stays in the community — if you have some idea of that. While you're thinking about that, you also mentioned cedar and hemlock in areas…. I think you said to the east.
M. von der Gonna: To the west of us but Prince George east — yeah.
B. Routley: Okay. So is that within your region? You said something about Prince George so I was a tad bit confused.
M. von der Gonna: I'll answer the last question first. Currently that area is within the Prince George timber supply area, so it's outside our Robson Valley timber supply area. Currently all the licences are based on a TSA basis, so they don't overlap. We would like to see if we could expand over that administrative boundary. So that was that one.
To answer your first question, originally, in say our first five years of operations, when we had mills in McBride and in Valemount, we had over 90 percent of our volume stay locally. Now it's more like less than 10 percent, but that just reflects that the milling capacity is so low locally. If you ask our local mills, for the most part the ones that can afford to pay for the volume are able to get it.
B. Routley: How many different companies are actually doing the harvesting? Or is it primarily one?
M. von der Gonna: Our small market logger program right now — we probably have about…. This last winter I'll bet you we had about eight different logging companies going. In the past when we held a community forest licence and a small-scale salvage licence, we had over 30 at different times. This might be just individual landowners.
Part of the beauty of community forests is you've got…. I mean, certainly in the Robson Valley. You've got the whole Fraser Valley — it's all private land. All their community forest is sort of locked behind private land. But we're able to sublicense these landowners to go and access and salvage the pine off the Crown land adjacent to their properties — right? So all of a sudden now we open up all the access to all that wood where you wouldn't be able to get access otherwise.
B. Routley: Right. Actually, to follow up on your idea about selective harvesting an area. I mean, if you're doing it now, then you already know that within existing VQO guidelines or rules there is the opportunity to harvest. It's not an exclusive zone.
Obviously, what you're talking about is a unique idea or opportunity that may be more acceptable to the community or even to those that are involved in land use planning to look at something like that. Are you talking about just dead pine, or are you talking about other species as well that are…?
M. von der Gonna: We're talking other species. I mean, I think your opportunities…. You have to go back to the silvics of the trees that you're dealing with. Pine grow in generally large, contiguous, even-aged stands — right? So there really isn't the same opportunity to do partial harvesting in those stands. The best you can do is design your blocks to mimic natural shapes and forms and take a landscape approach like that, rather than sort of cookie-cutter squares all over the landscape.
For us, we're quite lucky in that we have a mix of species. Some of them are more late seral. They're not like a pioneer species, so they grow in shade, and they grow at different rates. A lot of our stands might have cedar, hemlock, balsam, spruce. Some of our drier sites might have pine, Douglas fir, spruce. You know, it's just a real mix — right? We have that opportunity to provide that.
The other thing is, there is and has been a real history of partial harvesting in the Robson Valley from diameter limit logging that happened maybe 80 years ago, 50 years ago. There was a push on extracting cedar poles. If you go through the forest you'll find that a lot of what looks like a pristine, untouched forest has actually been logged through several times in the past.
B. Routley: Just a final one to be sure I have it correct. Any changes to legislation or to your land use plan? What I think I heard was a pretty clear message that you wanted the community involved and that if there was a preference, it would be community forest.
M. von der Gonna: Absolutely.
J. Rustad (Chair): One quick question from me, and that's more of a technical nature, just around the partial selection, the partial harvesting practices.
In my history, of course, I've been out and around and looked at many different stands that were accessed on a partial as well as a clearcut basis. Do you find you have much damage — I guess "damage" is the correct word — to the trees that are left in terms of scarring or other types of issues that maybe devalue some of the trees that are left from the partially harvested areas?
M. von der Gonna: Yes and no. I guess it depends on the level of harvest you're doing. Certainly, if you're trying to retain less, then there are more trees for you to bump into — right? So it's finding that mix where you have enough retention to keep all those values in place but enough room to manoeuvre.
Raj, do you want to address that too?
R. Basran: I've been in the same area, actually, for about five years, harvesting. First of all, we went, like I said, to one chainsaw and skidder and stuff. Then I went back, basically, three years ago where I had a buncher and a skidder and a button-top kind of thing. We went back and got the wood that we had originally left that was sawlog grade. We wouldn't fall it.
Basically, the balsam was the only one that was really affected. The spruce didn't really show much sign of any damage, or the cedar. The balsam in the areas that we'd already been…. The roots on the skidder that had gone by showed a little bit of butt rot. It went up maybe about two metres or something up the tree, but overall, it wasn't that bad at all.
Like I say, in return…. Overall perspective: had somebody come into that area — like for example, Carrier — wiped that whole thing about three years ago, the value itself would have got basically contractor's rate. A set rate, just to give you an example, is 18 bucks a metre. In return, that whole valley, that whole spot, for myself has created quite a few jobs and we've managed the funds all the way up to 60 bucks a metre for the same value of wood.
In the same area I can operate year-round within 5,000 to 10,000 metres. It's the same with some of the other, smaller groups. I think overall it's a better way of going. Then we can go into that area and play with the markets a little bit. If it's a cedar market, we get for the poles. If it turns into a house log market, then we can fluctuate a little bit and play around with it a little bit, whereas if it's a one-time thing, you've got to take it all in and process it, and away it goes.
J. Rustad (Chair): Well, thank you very much for your presentation and taking some time to share with us your thoughts around this rather critical issue.
M. von der Gonna: Thanks for having us.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'd like to suggest to the committee members that we go straight into the community consultation period.
For presenters, we are now going into the community consultation period, which allows presenters 15 minutes. They can decide how they want to use that in terms of presenting information to the committee as well as allowing for questions and answers.
Our first presenter is Gene Runtz.
G. Runtz: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. First of all, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Gene Runtz. I am a registered professional forester, and I have about 45 years' experience working in the forest industry, of which the last 27 years have been here in McBride.
My education is that I have a bachelor of science in forest engineering from Oregon State. I am more of an industrial forester. I have worked for years and years on cable ground, ground skidding, all different kinds. It was by no accident that we ended up coming to McBride, where it was much steeper and where there was more, really, of a need for the type of expertise that I have. I was the president of McBride Forest Industries, which actually failed in 2006.
What I want to do is kind of give you my perspective on sustainability and talk about this community and its needs.
This community depends almost exclusively on our forests. That's not just for timber extraction. It's tourism. We've got, really, a strong winter economy here in terms of snowmobiles. We use many of the forest roads for access to do all these things. Really, just about everything depends on our forests.
One thing I want to make sure is that these forests continue to be sustainable. When I mean sustainable, I mean in both the short and the long term. I'm also talking about not just sustainability for forest jobs in terms of harvesting and milling. I'm talking about all the other uses that are in the community.
It's my opinion that old-growth parks and those kinds of items are just as important as the harvesting that takes place, and the milling. Together they create a strong community.
I just want to give you an example of what's been taking place in McBride in terms of lack of sustainability in the short term. I'll use our high school here as a real example, because it's an easy one to look at.
When the economy was really good around 2004-2005, the high school had 228 students. This last term the high school had 104. They're expecting, next year, that the amount will be 90. One of our classes in the grade school, grade 3, only has three students. They're expecting that the high school…. The number from 104 that we have this year will drop in half in the next five to eight years.
What we're talking about is the high school, and this is actually mimicked at Valemount. Now you're going to have two communities that are side by side but approximately 100 kilometres apart, where all the students put together from both the communities won't even fill half of one high school. That's what has taken place here.
One point that I want to make is that I think all the forest values are important. Whatever happens with your committee, it's going to be really important to look at the effects of these communities that may lose their mills because they don't have wood in the short term. Whatever you have to do, you're going to have to try to make it of paramount importance that they do not lose those mills.
There may be a transition period, which the community forest people talked about, where maybe smaller mills and whatnot could come in. I can just tell you this right now. When all the mills were operating here, we had approximately 270 milling jobs just in McBride. We had McBride Forest Industries. We had a mill at Mountainview that was…. I call it the Marshes' mill.
We had three post-and-rail plants here in McBride. There were four post-and-rail plants at one time in the province. Three of them were located here in McBride. The post-and-rail plants employed about a hundred individuals. Right now two of the post-and-rail plants barely operate and employ probably around six people. So we're talking about post-and-rail plants that went from a hundred to six. We're talking about larger mills that probably went from around 140 or 150, total, employed down to zero, and no recovery of those jobs.
That's what we're working with right here, right now. One of the problems that I'm concerned about, in the future, is the AAC within this TSA. I'm very concerned that the AAC in the next coming years may be cut in half. The reason for that is that we have a problem with operability in terms of getting roads into some of these drainages. I'm not talking about operability that is too tough to harvest in or anything like that. I'm talking about areas that are inoperable because we do not have the economic resources to build the roads into those drainages that are so difficult.
In 1987 the government stopped the financing of these main lines that went into these difficult areas. We have not found a mechanism since then to get into the back ends of these drainages in these difficult areas. Some of these accesses have been made quite a bit worse by the placement of parks within portions of them.
I'm not blaming the parks for that. They're beautiful areas. It's a beautiful area to have parks. But what I'm saying is: we have now no mechanism to get into those areas, economically. The companies cannot do it. I mean, we've got Carrier Lumber in here. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the richest forest companies. They don't have any idea how they're going to get into some of these drainages — no idea at all. I think they've got it right. There is no mechanism right now to get into these drainages.
When we talk about post-and-rail plants…. The post-and-rail plants were actually going out of existence before the economy went down here. The post-and-rail demise in this particular area was actually pretty much made by government, by the province of British Columbia. What happened was that in 2003 the market…. Each area has what they call market value of cedar. The problem that happened in the Prince George or the northern area was that there were no longer enough mills to consider that a marketing zone. So they made one marketing zone — in the interior of British Columbia.
It ended up for TRC Cedar. That was our largest employer. Their average stumpage on one of their cutting permits went from $2.50 to over $42 overnight — a $40 increase in stumpage. Same timber — everything the same. Market value being used as the Interior as a whole rather than based on a bunch of junk that we've got up in these areas.
Now, when I say "junk," I only mean junk in terms of lumber. I don't mean junk in terms of other values. You can make post and rail from it. Right now they appraise all the cedar as lumber. They actually do a large net back, from gross to net, but the net volume that your values and your stumpage is based on is based on 100 percent lumber. The cedar that comes out of this area is 90 percent grade 4. Grade 4 is really a pulp grade. That's what it's there for. It's 25-cent wood.
TRC itself, over the years, has made a number of tries to try to get this changed, by the government. Shirley Bond has been involved — really, to no success at this point. Right now the government is seriously looking at the cedar problem in the southern Interior. The reflections down there are also causing problems in terms of….
The wood is better, but it's still not all sawlog — not even close. What's happening there is…. They're really studying the problem right now and hope to get an answer here in the short term. When that answer comes, then the revenue branch intends to take a real serious look at the problem up in these areas. The information that has been tabled to the government at this point from this area is really just sitting but will be picked up again when the southern Interior problem is figured out.
Hopefully, what comes out of the southern Interior will actually work towards a solution for these areas. The demise of this industry started with that, and then, of course, the change of the markets and whatnot have really been the end of it.
But this is a problem that can be fixed, and I feel it will be fixed and needs to be fixed to have this area become what it can be in terms of working in cedar.
The next thing that I really want to talk about is inventories. Our inventories here are hopelessly out of date. Our decay, waste and breakage factors were actually put together in the 1950s in the valley bottoms. Now we're on the steeper side hills. We're way past where any of this information was taken.
Carrier Lumber, this last winter, for the first year since they've been here, operated in the side drainages exclusively. And lo and behold, when the volume came out, they ended up with close to 30 percent less volume from their blocks than what the cruises said. That has been the historic for the 27 years that I have been here. All the side drainages — you just automatically calculate to get 20 to 30 percent less volume, and this is the old stands.
Here in the actual trench where there are younger stands, where you work in them, the cruises actually come out, and they're accurate. But in the back drainages it is not.
As a result of this, with Carrier Lumber…. I'm not trying to slam Carrier Lumber in what I'm going to say here. Carrier Lumber called us up, the company that I work for, and gave us one day's notice and told us there would be no more work for another year — for a whole year. We had over $150,000 worth of approved purchase orders from Carrier Lumber at the time. One day's notice. We were supposed to start with our crew the next day.
Okay. Now, why did they do this? They called up the loggers and told the loggers the same thing. They were going to put a moratorium on harvesting in this area for a period of time. The reason they did this…. They have since then followed through, and at least one of the loggers is cleaning up some ground-skidding blocks. But without firms like the one that I work for, which do probably 90 percent of Carrier's layout, there is going to be nothing available for them to go anywhere. There are going to be no roads built. People aren't going to work.
Now, why are they doing this? I think the reason they're doing this is that they can get wood so much cheaper anywhere else, other than here. It's the first year of their AAC, so they can come back in here at a later date, and they can cut all they want.
We've already lost over a million jobs. For the most part, we've had a lot of the loggers working. I will say that you can give a lot of thanks to the community forest for a lot of the loggers working. That's very true, what they've been saying in terms of that. But what happens now when we lose a lot of our forest jobs, our logging jobs, for two or three years?
I know the entire crew that I worked with are all heading north. We've managed to pick up work with other consulting firms out of Fort St. James. Now, why should we have to do that, when this is our home? Most of the men that live in this community are working out of this town right now. They don't work here any more. Their families are here. The men don't work here. Everybody's working out of town.
One of the things that I want to talk about…. I guess I'll close with a talk about tenure reform. I want to see tenures that make sure that the jobs stay in these communities. I know it's difficult, with the U.S. and the different things that have happened. But these towns, when appurtenancy was taken away, had no way…. They did not have the strength to sit by themselves.
I think that over a period of time, by changing policies…. I'm not telling you to go back to appurtenancy or something like that. I'm telling you that I see the future not so much in taking wood out of here and using it for sawlogs, but I see it being used for other things — certainly power, energy. You're going to see more coming into this area that works with poorer-grade wood.
I really think that those are the directions that we're going to see. We've got to make sure that these types of companies and stuff can get access to the timber that they need. One thing is that when the majors do not cut, that wood can be put out to someone else.
I would like to recommend in the short term that these problems that you have in communities like McBride be considered and looked at on an individual basis. Don't come up with policies that will fit everybody, because they just will not. By having meetings like this, you get a lot better idea of what the people in the communities need to live together. I can tell you that loggers, environmentalists and the whole works…. We live together here, and we live in harmony — for the most part.
I would like to see the district managers be given much more responsibility to deal with these kinds of problems that they see. You've got really good districts, for the most part. That's what I see. I see really well-trained staff. I see staff that have the energy to deal with problems. I think you need to give those district managers more authority to deal with problems of sustainability within these communities.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. We've used up all the time — a little bit over — but I am going to ask one very quick question, because this is of a technical nature. You mentioned the cruise volume that's coming off of the wood. The volume that's actually being harvested is up to 30 percent less than the cruise volume. How does that compare to the inventory volume?
G. Runtz: In terms of inventory volume and the cruise volumes, they seem to actually be fairly close to each other. But what actually comes out is still 25 to 30 percent under what even the inventories show. So they're off.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thanks. I just needed to distinguish between the two differences on that, because inventory and cruise can obviously sometimes be quite different.
G. Runtz: That's right, and there's a falldown on that for sure.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay. I appreciate that. I know there were a couple of other people who would like to ask questions, but to be fair, I don't think we can go too much more over the time we've had. Thank you very much for your presentation to us.
Our next presenter is Roy Howard.
Over to you, Roy.
R. Howard: Hello, and welcome to the beautiful Robson Valley. Thank you for allowing me to make a presentation today.
I wear a lot of hats. I am or have been a small business owner, NGO executive director, carpenter, log builder, homesteader, biologist, steam engineer, renewable energy proponent, logger, millworker, silviculture contractor, computer operator, member of the boards of the Dunster Community Association, Silva Forest Foundation and various other NGOs.
Today I'm representing the Fraser Headwaters Alliance, a local charity focused on environmental education, of which I am the current president.
I will go right to the questions posed in the discussion paper. You ask: "What values and principles should guide the evaluation and decision-making regarding potential actions to mitigate timber supply impacts?"
First and foremost must be sustainability of the resource, both in quantity and quality. Timber exported without being processed is equivalent to jobs being exported. Timber should be processed as near its source as possible, and products should be as finished as possible.
Your next question was: how should decisions regarding potential actions to mitigate timber supply impacts be made, and by whom? Sustainability, again, must be the first priority. Resource use decisions should be weighted towards the local priorities and made by local residents, and previous public planning processes should be respected.
Your next question is: what specific information about your local area would you like the committee to know and consider? The Robson Valley TSA and the eastern portion of the Prince George TSA contain the best and most dramatic examples of the world's only inland rain forest at temperate latitudes. Although this rain forest technically covers a broader geographic area, it is almost entirely within British Columbia, with the best remaining portions between McBride and Purden Lake. So that's both TSAs, of course.
Individual trees in the rain forest are up to 2,000 years old, and some areas show no history of fire or major disturbance since the glaciers left some 10,000 years ago. Some of this area is now semi-protected in old-growth management areas, such as the Ancient Forest Trail near Dome Creek. A walk through this site is as impressive as anything in the more famous B.C. coastal timber rain forest.
In most countries this outstanding example of biodiversity would be a national park and/or UNESCO World Heritage Site, as being suggested by UNBC staff. In B.C. it hasn't even made provincial park status except in small islands of less significant stands that are vulnerable due to their small geographic size. Now, apparently, government is considering nullifying the protection previously in OGMAs. This goes in the wrong direction in a world that needs greater protection and restoration, not less.
Biodiversity in the Robson Valley is among the highest in B.C., which in turn has some of the highest biodiversity in the world. It should not be further compromised by either an increase in logging rates or relaxation of existing constraints.
One particular species of note, mountain caribou, is SARA-listed and under a provincial recovery strategy. One of the possible mitigation strategies mentioned in the mitigation options paper is to harvest timber — in other words, overturn protection — in designated ungulate winter range. As you are no doubt aware, most of the ungulate winter range in this area is under a GAR order to protect mountain caribou. Overturning any of these would be contravening the recovery strategy and opening the possibility of legal action against the government.
Additionally, any acceleration of harvesting in adjacent matrix habitat would also negatively impact recovery efforts as identified in the recovery implementation plan for the threatened woodland caribou in the Hart and Cariboo Mountains recovery area.
The scenery here is outstanding, as you can clearly see. It's a good day for it. Not only is this important for the local quality of life but also for a growing tourism industry. Tourism is extremely important both as a diversification from and in addition to timber harvesting and processing. Recognition of the Robson Valley land and resource management plan that many valley residents spent years negotiating should be a major factor.
Please realize also that the end result of the LRMP was not a full consensus but a supposed compromise imposed by government, which favoured industry, in the opinion of many participants. Fully half of the Robson Valley round table had asked for much greater levels of protection for biodiversity, visuals and protected area status.
One particular item that was consensus was to "limit harvest of all natural renewable resources to sustainable levels, including old-growth timber." Ignoring established OGMAs would contravene this.
The next question in the discussion paper: what cautions and advice do you have for this committee in considering whether and how to mitigate mid-term timber supply? Short-term mitigation should not be weighted more than long-term sustainability and the ability of our grandchildren to survive on a livable planet.
Your next question: how would you as an individual or community want to be engaged in these considerations going forward? Any change in land use plans should be negotiated in a full LRMP-style consultation process.
Finally, in addition to being able to answer questions on my presentation, I would like to ask the committee to consider some questions of my own.
(1) I would like to point out that neither the words "sustainable" nor "sustainability" occur in the discussion paper that these hearings are based on. How does sustainability factor in the government's decisions related to these hearings?
(2) I note that climate change and its acceleration due to increased logging of old growth is also not a topic. Shouldn't prevention of the problem — in other words, climate change leading to insect outbreaks — take precedence over trying to maintain a few mill jobs for a short time?
(3) Shouldn't the cessation of raw log exports be the first option to maintain mill jobs?
(4) Note that currently only a small fraction of timber harvested from the Robson Valley, as you've already been told, is being processed here, as opposed to what was happening ten years ago. How has the removal of appurtenancy requirements, formerly tied to timber licences, impacted small communities?
(5) What happened to the government's push toward value-added timber products, which, of course, increases the number of jobs per cubic metre harvested?
I would like to close with a current quote from author Richard Heinberg, from a blog on the Post Carbon Institute website, which is somewhat reminiscent of the famous quote from Chief Seattle.
"Here is the central issue: not how we will manage the planet but how we will manage ourselves. As our economy adjusts to very real resource limits, will we net every last wild fish in the oceans and cut every last old-growth tree, leaving the biosphere in a state of depleted ruin so that our descendants will persist in ongoing misery? Or can we back away from our pinnacle of consumption with some grace and dignity, preserving and perhaps even restoring ecosystems along the way?
"We have a moral obligation, not just to other species but to our children and our grandchildren, to undertake the latter."
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. First question goes to Norm.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay, very quickly. Thank you for the presentation. I think the last speaker reminded us that there are consequences to policy decisions. Appurtenance was talked about, cut controls, things like that, and the impact not only here but in Valemount is fairly profound with those.
I think partially what you're reminding us is that as we sit and make policy decisions, we need to be mindful of a number of the concerns that you've laid out. I take the point. We've heard it a lot, about local control and about faith in local decision-making — that there's a lot of expertise in communities that help to make that.
We have been asking questions, but I will answer some of the questions that you've put to us — from my perspective. You've asked about things that you think should have been in the document that we put out. I just want you to know that the things that you're asking about, how they come to be considered, are things that we've heard in community after community.
So even if you don't see "sustainability" there, in the discussions that we've had as a group and in the discussions in other communities, that's there. It is something that's coming up again and again. I just want to give you some comfort on that level.
Other things like climate change, intergeneration obligations — from Houston to this morning in Valemount, these themes come up again and again. So rather than asking the questions, I'll just answer those questions to give you some comfort. You're by no means alone. This community would not in any way be unique in talking about those things. It comes up again and again, if that gives you any comfort.
R. Howard: Thank you.
B. Routley: Thank you for your presentation. I just wanted to comment about the point you made that the cessation of raw log exports be the first option for mill jobs. It is ironic that we're out in one part of the province looking at a timber supply problem, while at the same time we have ramped up log exports from, back in the 1990s, about a million cubic metres to 5.5 million cubic metres, so we've got five times the level of log exports.
Anyway, getting to one of the questions about communities and changes to timber supply, I think we've heard it from the mayor — and, in fact, from the mayors of a lot of communities. First, there's the issue that if there are going to be changes, communities need to be consulted. You're carrying the same message.
Also a common theme is, as Norm already mentioned, the need for sustainability. And of course, it's not sustainable. I mean, I think we need to know. As the Chair, if he didn't start out with it today…. His standard speech is that we're going to lose in the coming years — either two years or two to ten years — ten million cubic metres, and that's the timber supply for about eight mills.
There's no question that what we have been doing has not been managing in a sustainable way. Why? Because of the pine beetle — right? There has been a crisis, and the accelerated cut was done in order to have some value from that timber. Now, what this is dealing with is actually an entirely different matter, and that is: should other values that were set aside be looked as some possibility for dealing with — as I've heard it put — mitigation? But I'm not sure how we would mitigate the mitigation if we did…. Have you got any ideas of how we could mitigate the mitigation?
R. Howard: How do you get back 2000-year-old trees? I mean, if you start going into those really old areas, like the inland rain forest, a lot of those old cedars really are a thousand years old, and rare ones are up to two thousand, apparently. We can't really know, because nobody can really core them — right? But how do you get that back? How do you get that back for your great-great-grandchildren?
B. Routley: There are thoughtful ideas, though, that I would like to know if you support a little bit. If in the community there were opportunities to look at visual-quality areas where there's opportunity to take some timber, and again, if it was done in consultation, whether it's dead pine or…. Obviously, if the community could look at the plan and see that it wasn't a complete withdrawal but, say, leaving 40 percent or more of a stand, is that something that you think should be considered?
R. Howard: You can't really leave…. As Gene said, or maybe it was Marc, you can’t really go into it. It's hard to go into a pine stand and do very much selective logging, especially in a dead pine stand. We're trying to do some of that in the Dunster Community Forest. I'm on that board as well. But it's not an easy thing. Instead, we're trying to make small patch cuts, rather than do selective logging.
One thing I noticed in one of the papers that was on your website…. As far as an analysis of the mid-term timber supply for the Robson Valley TSA, it said that nothing would really be gained by relaxing those constraints for visuals, or very little would be gained.
We've already seen a considerable relaxation of constraints in this valley from what they were ten or 15 years ago. Our original understanding was that it was very constrained. It became less and less constrained. Many of us are not especially happy with some of the clearcuts that have happened in the valley, but it's certainly better than what it was 20 years ago.
J. Rustad (Chair): Roy, thank you very much for your presentation and the information you brought to our committee.
R. Howard: You bet. There's a really good book on the inland rain forest, if I didn't convince you guys enough with my paragraph or two. This is the only book that I'm aware of on the inland rain forest. It has been done by several UNBC professors and a few Ministry of Forests researchers.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much.
Our next presenter is Virginia Karr.
V. Karr: Sorry about that. I'm old.
J. Rustad (Chair): No problem.
V. Karr: You may have noticed that an awful lot of the people here are also old or getting there, so there's an awful lot of: "Well, we can't stop doing things the way we've always done them because we've always done them that way." But I see it as a time when we're going to have to change, and we're going to have to suck up.
Between 1990 and 1994 the average cut was 478,000 cubic metres. Then, the AAC in 1996 was set at 602,000 and change. In 2001, 602,000 and change. In 2006 it was dropped a little bit because of the community forest. But there were all these wonderful graphs that were made — sensitivity analyses — showing that if you continued cutting at a certain rate, then there would be a falldown, and the falldown would be…. The longer you kept at a high level, the falldown would be worse.
But nobody along the way wanted to think about the falldown, and they didn't want to cut the cut on their own — when they were in charge. You know, no government wants to bring their voters bad news.
So the cut remained high for far too long and now we're into falldown with the…. People did talk a little bit about the precautionary principle and the "Well, what if?" Well, the "what if" did happen in the pine forests — we all know that — and so we're in a lot of trouble. So now it's time for the falldown, and I can't see where you can really make cuts.
We need riparian zones because many of the soils around here are very, very rich in mica. And as we all know, mica is very, very slippery, so there are hillsides that have not grown even grass for the 40 years that I've lived in the valley.
The CN — when they were building the railroad originally, 100 years ago, it cost them more to build it and keep the tracks where the tracks are supposed to be in the valley part of this area than through the Rockies because the soils are not firm. They're not. So we have to keep riparian zones. We have to be very, very careful where roads are put because, you know, they will wash out. And they do wash out. And they are very expensive to maintain for that reason.
One point I really…. I'm sorry. I took a fall on Sunday, and so I did not prepare as well as I should have.
J. Rustad (Chair): Take your time.
V. Karr: Anyway, I want to make one very important point that my son, who has been in the logging industry for years and has left it…. My other sons have never gone near it because they never saw a future in it. He said: "Remember that local is local." If you have to make a long-distance phone call, it is not local. Crescent Spur is not local to McBride. We have to make a long-distance phone call to phone here.
Crescent Spur is where a good chunk of the McBride community forest's area is. It's in our backyard, not their backyard. The Crescent Spur community — I'm not saying everyone there, but an awful lot of people — is not impressed by some of the cuts that are being made in areas that are used very, very heavily for ungulate winter range.
They haven't been cut off as that, but as you drive past, if you look at the footprints in the snow, you know there are an awful lot of animals that are between Crescent Spur and Catfish Creek. Inside that area they're making a fairly narrow but very long cutblock. A good bit of the new industry and the younger people moving in are interested in tourism and showing people wildlife and the big trees, the interior cedar-hemlock.
I'm the only person here, I think, who actually lives in the interior cedar-hemlock forest and has watched it for 40 years. Taking the cedar out of the cut will make almost no difference to TRC, which I know is local and does produce six jobs. But they make fence posts that don't work very well and that have to be replaced in ten years or 15 years at the most, instead of the ones that are treated fence posts. I'm a farmer. I know. I've used both, and treated fence posts are better by far.
Also, they make something called mulch, which is ground-up cedar. If you go talk to Art Knapp's in Prince George, they'll tell you that they wouldn't put it anywhere close to a garden. It's fine if you put it underneath a pine tree if you don't want anything to grow there for many, many years, generations. But it's not good for people to put in gardens and expect to be able to put flowers underneath it. So it's got uses, but not anything like as great as people have claimed.
Also, "local" does not mean Prince George. That's, again, a long-distance phone call. So you know, saying that local jobs means people coming in from Prince George — no, that doesn't do it. Local jobs for McBride means McBride, for Crescent Spur means Crescent Spur.
And Dome Creek, where McBride Community Forest wants to move into…. I think I can speak for them. They are pretty much against the whole idea because they, again, are very, very interested in maintaining the interior cedar-hemlock forests and the Antique Forest. It should be a park and a World Heritage Site. It's something we're all losing by not having it…. Prince George uses pictures from it for their PR advertising, so obviously it has some use to them.
How can you get more wood? Well, go higher-altitude. The only problem is, a lot of the high-altitude stuff has never regrown. Now we seem to be getting more snow, so whatever is replanted or trying to grow will probably be sheared off. So that's not too cool.
A lot of farmers kind of like to have the forest come right down to their land — some of them; some don't — for buffering so that the winds aren't so bad, because that can make a tremendous difference to how much you feed your cattle and all sorts of things.
Also, domestic watersheds — going closer into domestic watersheds and community watersheds doesn't seem to be a really great idea. Anyway, I can't help you on that.
I think it's just time to suck up and look at McBride. If you talk to the realtors, they'll say: "Well, property values aren't dropping, and we're selling land to people who want to come from the Lower Mainland, take early retirement, live in a beautiful place, hike." People work in the oil patch, but they want their families to live in a nice, small community with small schools — which are excellent.
It's going to change, no matter what, and it might as well get on with it instead of trying to hang on to this old picture of it. Yeah, I do not know very many young people who want to go into logging or forestry in this area. UNBC got built. They're going there, they're getting educations, they're going into the trades, and they're having lives. Most of us are immigrants ourselves, or our parents were immigrants, and so our children are emigrants, and other people are emigrants. That's how I see it.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you, Virginia. We have time for a few questions, but I just wanted to mention that if you happen to think of some more things that you would like to add to your presentation, because of the rushed time, please feel free to send us any information up till July 20 through our website or, of course, through regular mail.
So questions from members. Any members with any questions?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): First, thank you for the description of a place…. Probably John, and maybe if you were here with the rural caucus — they had a chance to see the area that you've described. You're very fortunate to live in an area as beautiful as that. In Prince George we had a presentation by UNBC staff. I think they brought pictures, and so we had one sense of what that would be like.
I think one of the things in this community, too, that draws young people away, of course, if it's similar to Golden, is that an awful lot of the jobs that we used to look to in forestry…. Since they're not as prevalent, people have moved, with those same types of jobs, into the oil sands right now, which are hugely competitive for skilled employees and things like that.
I know in Golden an awful lot of people would love to be here in McBride all the time. To be separated from families I think, as MLAs know as well, is a difficult thing, and I think if young people had good, sustainable employment that, judging from the day outside, they would choose to be here over anything.
I think that's the opportunity that's here, but we take your point that there are beautiful areas that, in doing that, we don't want to comprise.
V. Karr: Well, the thing about…. I mean, yeah, of course, but there are so few jobs now in forestry. When I first moved 40 years ago to Crescent Spur, there were people pulling green chain, there were skidders, there were all sorts of more machinery, way more jobs, more employees. Now there are very few, compared. It's not the great job bonanza that people like to make it into.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Yeah. Within the community, though, you see examples of not only the industrial employment that has become more and more industrial, but there are also examples of people working on the land in your community forests and that sort of employment. There are also opportunities for different types of manufacturing that I think is part of what we're going to look for too.
I mean, we all talk about value-added and the need to make more out of the material, but surely within the community there's that innovation, that opportunity. That's part of what we've heard here: people exploring those ideas.
V. Karr: There are musical instruments that are made here and the blocks that are sold from here. I don't think any tree that is good enough to be made into cellos should ever be made into 2-by-4s or chipped or whatever the big companies, unfortunately, are still doing.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you again very much for your presentation and taking some time to be with us here today.
Our next presenter is Bill Arnold. Welcome, Bill, and over to you.
B. Arnold: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to this panel on this subject. It's a subject that's been quite close to my heart for a long time. I've been a resident of the Robson Valley for 54 years, involved in timber supply matters for many years as logging superintendent, sawmill operator and concerned citizen. I'm none of the above except the concerned citizen at the present time, but I still have a real concern for the part of the country in which I have chosen to live.
Over the years I have seen many changes to the timber supply figures used in the province. All this time the actual timber supply has been steadily eroded. In some cases this was due to increased allotments to timber users, in some cases to wildfire, in some cases to beetle infestation. Beetles attacked the spruce, the fir, the hemlock, the cedar and the pine at different times and in different intensities.
Because the forests grow at a different rate in different parts of the province and at different elevations, the replacement or regeneration is over varying lengths of time. Our timber supply is a renewable resource. In this area, the Robson Valley, the regeneration time from planting to maturity is about 120 years at lower elevations, and increasing as the elevation increases.
The timber supply management policy over the past 54 years, at least, appears to have been: "If there is more demand for wood, change the rules under which it can be harvested in order to increase the available supply." This, along with natural forces, has resulted in a steadily dwindling supply. My point is that instead of looking at new ways to artificially invent more available volume, we should be looking at ways to increase the utilization of the available volume and enhance the regeneration cycle.
Suggested ways of doing this. First, a return to selective logging–type of tenure, wherein only mature trees and diseased or bug-infected trees are taken. The reasoning behind this is that areas logged on the diameter-limit standard in the 1940s and which I ran cruise strips through in the mid-1960s showed remarkable growth in the stems remaining after the diameter-limit harvest.
In the early 2000s this same area was logged again, and the truckers told me that this was the best timber they had hauled from any given area of the valley.
Second, give incentives to increase better utilization of the timber being harvested. For example, selecting logs for optimal value; milling for grade, not volume. "Sound wood," I've written in my presentation, but it should read "tone wood," for musical instruments; finish material for siding, paneling, flooring, etc.; sorting suitable wood for timber framing, log house–building, fencing material, shake and shingle.
Utilize the material now being left in great piles on the harvested areas — such as tops, limbs, decadent dry and dead material — because they're considered waste. For the present and increasing demand for pellet fuel, biothermal fuel, etc., this type of material should be considered to be part of the available timber supply inventory.
Many of the areas replanted since the early 1960s are very dense stands due to the success of the plantations — this is item No. 3 — combined with natural regeneration. Because of this density, the growth of the stands is restricted.
A program of thinning these stands and using the removed trees for such things as pellets, bioenergy, fence posts, 2-by-4s, etc., would add to the timber supply by utilizing the trees that are going to die in the competition for sunlight and nutrients if left. It would allow for a more rapid development of the spaced trees left.
The historical decision-making in the management of the timber supply has been the responsibility of elected officials whose positions depend on re-election every four years. A four-year focus on the management of a renewable resource which has a 120-year rotation is shackling those responsible for decision-making with a severe handicap.
The solution to this problem, as I see it from the standpoint of years of observation, is not to grab for an interim timber supply solution but to develop a management system judged by its effectiveness in maintaining and even enhancing the renewable resources. Much older jurisdictions throughout the world have done the groundwork. We can well learn from them. In short, put the management of the farm in the hands of skilled farmers, in this case foresters, free of the shackle of short-term politics.
I believe that this type of approach would fit very well with the need to protect the biodiversity of our forests, the natural beauty of our landscapes and provide substantial and sustainable employment for our workforce.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present my thoughts on these crucial matters.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Bill.
Questions from members?
B. Routley: Thank you for your suggestions. In regard to putting the forests in the hands of the foresters, we do have a professional reliance model. Are you referring to the fact that a lot of those foresters are tied to major corporations?
I know that in the past I've often wondered if a forester…. I do believe that there are a lot of professional foresters who take their job and their commitment to the province very seriously. There's no question about that. But I do wonder about….
It's kind of like a hockey player playing for the team. Their loyalty is really to the team that they're with, so if the team that they're with is giving them some kind of bonus…. I often wonder about that. Should professional foresters be connected to big corporations, or do you think that they should be in some way outside of that?
By the way, there are models in other parts of the world where they do have foresters as a separate entity, who are kind of hired from that group. I just wondered what your views were on that.
B. Arnold: Well, I definitely think they should be unshackled from any control that has vested interests. They should be free to treat the forest, to put it simply, as a crop or as a garden that you work with and get the most out of over the term which you expect it to produce.
That's why I say that 120 years is the known time it takes for the white wood and fir in this area to come to maturity. So if we don't work with them to give them the opportunity to come to maturity as quickly as possible and as well as possible….
That's why I used the illustration of the diameter-limit cuts that we used to do way back when I was a young guy. We took the dominant trees out, but we left the smaller trees. It was a 16-inch diameter limit for spruce, 13-inch for balsam and 18-inch for fir, so anything smaller than that in those species was left.
You took incremental borings of those trees. I did 25, 30 years after the logging had been done. You would be amazed at the way the growth rings increased. I was able to go back to my boss and say, "You logged that specific area in such and such a year," and I was nowhere near the country at that time. But I knew from where the growth rings started to spread that that's when they were released. The dominant trees had been taken out, and the others were able to go. Those are the ones that produced the better timber.
I know it's not a simple solution, and the matter of putting it in the hands of foresters is a complicated thing. It involves politics and all kinds of other things which I am not interested in. It's your job, not mine.
D. Barnett: Thank you for your presentation and your comments here — that you know that we have to find a solution and get the politics out of how forestry is managed, etc.
We are looking for suggestions. What is your comment on area-based tenures? Do you feel that area-based tenures for the private sector would be the way to go, or do you feel that we should somehow tie more things to the community forest aspect?
B. Arnold: I feel that whatever method is used, it needs to be in the hands of people with a long-term view — again I go back to that — not tied to: "What do I have to do right now to get voted in next time?"
I have nothing against politicians in that regard. But I'm afraid they are shackled because they have to get votes, and they get votes by pleasing the people. That doesn't necessarily mean that the forest is going to benefit from that.
H. Bains: Thank you, sir — a very good presentation. As you went through your presentation…. There's a lot in here to learn from about how we take care of our forest, how we better grow them and nurture them. That's one aspect of our forest industry, and I think the second one you have touched on, on point 2: better utilization of the timber that we take from, after doing all the stuff that you're suggesting.
You talk about thinning, and how to get to the wood that sometimes is left in there which would die because of competition for light, and what uses we can make. But I think the issue here also is on a larger scale. The better utilization begs a question: do we continue to go on in a historical way of cutting trees and making 2-by-4s and creating certain jobs? I think that's where it is.
How do you make industry or some entrepreneur say: "Okay, these are the logs available, and we would like you to create more jobs per cubic metre of logs available to you"? Is there some incentive system? Some disincentives? What would you suggest? In your experience, what do you think would work?
B. Arnold: Again, my observation is that when you've gone from horse logging — and it was just beginning to be more mechanized when I started to be involved, with many people in the bush, many people working: fallers, skidder operators, etc. — to now that you have somebody running a big machine that's doing the whole thing…. The problem with that is it destroys the things they don't particularly want, and that wouldn't lend itself to selective logging.
I should add that selective logging has to be done on a site-specific basis. There are sites where you can't to do that because of the ground condition. The wind will just blow over whatever you leave. You have to judge it accordingly.
I'm thinking particularly of the young stands, 30-year-old stands of regeneration that are probably 30, 40 feet high now. I've watched them from the time they were planted until now. They're as thick as hair on a dog, and they need to be thinned.
Now, you can't go in with any of the machinery used now to do that, but if you were to make that timber available on a spacing type of tenure to industry, believe me, industry would come up with the equipment so that they could go in there and do that without destroying the things that needed to be left.
It would take, perhaps, more management on the ground to mark out the trees that need to be taken, etc., but if that was made available to them at an attractive rate, industry would respond. It would develop a new industry, actually. What we're looking for is jobs for people — right?
J. Rustad (Chair): Bill, thank you very much for taking some time and for your presentation. It was very thoughtful.
Our next presenter is Bryan Monroe.
B. Monroe: Good afternoon. Thank you for allowing me to speak here today.
I'm mostly going to talk from my own perspective. I have lived in the Robson Valley for 54 years, and my family just celebrated 100 years here. Over that time we've been involved in timber and milling and logging and all kinds of stuff.
My interests and my livelihood actually all comes from wildlife, mostly speaking from a trapping perspective, although I'll make it clear that I'm not speaking for the Trappers Association. I am one of the past presidents, but I'm not currently given the authority to speak on their behalf.
However, I do know that throughout the province timber management at best kind of ignores the trapping industry and at worst just runs right over them, even though there have been numerous studies that show fur supply over a 120-year period will be, at the low range, 40 percent of the dollar value of the trees to as high as 100 percent or better. I simply don't think that we're, as other tenure holders, being offered or considered anywhere near as much as we should.
One of the largest uses across the province is, for instance, in the pine stands, whether they be green or red. The amount of coarse woody debris left is a huge issue. It amounts to…. I believe two fence posts in a hectare is what the legal limit is. That doesn't do a whole lot of our fur bearers any good at all, so it basically becomes a fur bearer desert for a number of years.
I want to kind of come back to the Robson Valley, which is, of course, my home and where I hold the most passion. Here we're doing a timber supply review. I like the hockey player analogy, but I equate it to a farmer doing an inventory on his haystack when he hasn't put up the fence to keep the horses out or even have a watchdog to tell him when the horses are in there.
We have a community forest that has completely run rampant. It has logged OGMAs and, I believe, is now trying to justify why they would do that by saying: "Well, we need more timber."
We've been logging OGMAs here for a number of years, and guess what. Nothing's been done about it. Finally the Forest Service seems to be interested in it, now that it's been pointed out to them. But I believe something that should be of grave concern to all of you is that it was also documented 2½ years ago, and somehow that documentation was covered up within the Forest Service.
Now they're saying that, well, they might not be able to act on it, because they only have three years, I believe, to act on that. That should be of grave concern to every person that considers themselves a forest manager in this province, I believe, including the professional association of registered professional foresters.
The way it's been run here…. I and a number of us have raised all kinds of issues through the Forest Practices Board. By the way, I can tell you that the person they sent in here was just a band-aid fixer. He did not take any leadership. He simply wanted to fix the issues that we brought forward, and being a bunch of hillbillies that don't know exactly how that system works, we only put a few issues on the table.
The opportunity was there for the Forest Practices Board to do a whole lot more. In fact, I believe that if they had, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today with the Ministry of Forests and looking into this whole thing. Again, that's something that I think needs to be noted. The Forest Practices Board, at least on that issue, was basically a feel-good organization.
When I look at, I believe, Meadow Creek, where the licence was finally suspended, the Forest Practices Board then told the forestry: "You didn't act quick enough." I believe — should the Forest Service ever kind of get it together and do some action in here — that those tables should be reversed, because I was one of a number of people that met and talked with the Forest Practices Board on that issue.
You know, we talk about timber supply. But in this area, how can you worry about that if you don't have any enforcement, if you don't know where they're cutting, how much they're cutting or even what species?
I wish I knew all the information that the Forest Service has. They tell me that they're looking into it, and they have been for some time. Supposedly, they're asking for more money to be able to come in and look into it, but I personally, on the ground, have not seen a whole lot yet. I think, without question, that the licence should be suspended here until this review by compliance and enforcement is finished.
That's my presentation for today.
D. Barnett: Thank you for your presentation. You have a trapline in the community forest?
B. Monroe: I do, yes.
D. Barnett: It is part of the practice, when you are going to harvest within a timber supply area, that any other user must get a letter so that you have an opportunity for input. Has this not been happening here?
B. Monroe: It hasn't happened on lots of occasions. When it has happened, lots of times they have already started logging. I know that in a number of cases it's because the logger himself has pushed for it.
B. Routley: You mentioned something about old-growth management areas and something about only three years to act on it. I'm not sure what you were referring to, in terms of acting on what.
B. Monroe: Well, I wish I knew all the answers on how the system works, but I can tell you how the system doesn't work. From what I understand, there was a report written up by the Ministry of Forests here — one of the compliance and enforcement guys — 2½ years ago that documented well the logging of an OGMA. That report was buried, and that particular person was quite frustrated. It's only very recently come to light. Now, why that is, I'd love to know the answer to. I think a whole lot of others would as well.
B. Routley: Well, I don't know what to comment on it, because this is the first I've heard of it.
B. Monroe: I'm not surprised. That's why I'm here today — to pry that door open a little bit wider. There have been a number of us that have been hammering on this issue and trying to go every route we possibly know, including going to the MLA. It's been pretty much hands-off, because this is a political hot potato. Now, I know I'm painting a whole lot of people with one brush, but believe me, there's a serious issue here and until we get some…. Well, for instance, like I said, I'd like to see the licence suspended.
I've already suggested that they — meaning the Ministry of Forests — should have some personnel here that a guy can go talk to and actually take out in the bush and show the problems. Yeah, we've been feeding them the problems left and right, and they're certainly interested, but you've got to go to Prince George to do it. It's not so convenient.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just one point to clarify, if I could. The block that was harvested here — the OGMA that you suggest has being harvested: who harvested that, again? Was that the community forest that harvested that, or was that one of the licensees?
B. Monroe: It's my understanding from walking through them that there have been at least three OGMAs logged.
J. Rustad (Chair): Do you know which licence it is?
B. Monroe: I don't know how many there are. I mean, I was surprised that even…. I didn't even know one of these OGMAs existed until I got looking at a map and said: "Well, they've already logged that."
J. Rustad (Chair): That's fair enough. Okay, any other questions from members? Thank you very much for your presentation.
That brings to an end the list of people that have registered to present to our committee. We have some time for an open mike, so if anybody else would like to come up to the mike to have five minutes to present to the committee, please feel free to do so now.
Okay, not seeing anybody else that's interested, I just want to remind the people in the audience and people over the Internet that they can submit written presentations to us up until July 20 at our website, which is www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Hansard and to thank the Clerk's office for all of the work they've done in support. I'd like to thank the audience for coming out today and for presenting their issues and presenting their community and community interests to our committee. This is obviously, as you've heard, a very significant issue that we face. We feel that the public consultation component is very important as part of what we will be considering with our deliberations.
With that, I'd like to thank the members, and this committee stands adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 4:13 p.m.
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