Eniyud Community Forest (ECF) in the Chilcotin has undergone a corporate restructuring to become a limited partnership.
In existence since 2007, ECF is a joint venture between the Tatla Resource Association and Tsideldel First Nation with two forest development units.
Tsideldel Coun. Percy Guichon said becoming a limited partnership is reflective of the growth the community forest has shown in the last few years.
“We needed to make the shift to be mindful of liabilities,” he said.
One of the original founders, Peter Shaughnessy of Tatla Resource Association, said the original community forest was put together on a shoe string.
The directors at the time contributed their own money as well as Tsideldel to get it started.
“Recently ECF has turned a profit and restructuring it was a very beneficial move to make for both communities,” he said.
Becoming a limited partnership has tax advantages and provides liability protection for the partners.
Describing it as a confluence of events, Shaugnessy said ECF received a new contract arrangement with its timber purchaser when a sudden demand for lumber due to COVID saw the global market skyrocketing to almost $1,700 per 1,000 board feet at the time.
“We just happened to have some cutting permits ready to go.”
Harvesting Douglas-fir, spruce and pine, they have concentrated for almost 15 years utilizing beetle kill, which is just about used up, with Tolko Industries Ltd. being their main buyer.
“We are a long way from town and we have difficult growing conditions in our area so it can be difficult for conditions to provide for a profitable harvest but this one is very fortunate,” Shaughnessy said.
Tatla Lake Resource Association is very pleased to be in the partnership with its neighbouring community Tsideldel, he noted, adding it is important and is going to be beneficial to both communities in the long-term.
Guichon said the ECF is a “pretty good” job provider for Tsideldel in terms of harvesting, logging and trucking, and it allows for trying some different initiatives.
They recently completed the Tatla Lake primary fuel break, have been actively rehabilitating dead mountain pine beetle forests and reforesting with healthy planted stock.
“The big one was the primary fuel break to reduce the risk of wildfires,” Guichon said.
“It provides a bit of a break, but also a place for firefighters and water tanks to get dropped off. We did some prescribed burning as well.”
Inside the community forest there are also some recreation trails they’ve incorporated into their planning.
Guichon said he has been involved since 2010.
“We slowly developed our harvesting schedule and now we are at a point that we are getting bigger returns. The dividends are paid out to both organizations and have made a tremendous impact to small communities like Tsideldel and Tatla Lake area.”
Proud of their efforts, Guichon said it is a great model of two communities working together to manage the forest to benefit both communities for the long-term.
A resident of the West Chilcotin for 38 years, Shaughnessy said he started on this path 25 years ago when the Tatla Resource Association was formed and was the group’s first chair.
Since 2019, Mike Tomlinson has been responsible for managing the limited partnership and said he values the ability to provide net benefits to the communities.
He said it’s about having the forest resemble more sustainable practices and deploy wildfire mitigation and rehabilitation strategy through government funding.
This season they have 800,000 seedlings to be planted, likely in May, that will go throughout various elevations of the community forest. They will work their way up as the snow recedes.
In the fall of 2022 the ECF received $1.5 million from Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. to begin treating roadsides for critical access and egress routes.
“Portions of our communities are isolated by forestry roads that are one way in and one way out. We are going to be treating a distance off of the road to try and create a little bit of a safer exit in case of an emergency,” Tomlinson said.
It will be done in a way so it would not burn as intensely, were there to be a fire come through. Done by hand or small equipment by partial cutting, the project will likely be completed by March of 2024. In the last fiscal year, which ended March 2023, they harvested 38,000 cubic metres of timber.