It’s no surprise to anyone reading this that the mountain pine beetle outbreak has affected our region in a colossal way.
Over the last 13 years, the outbreak has affected an estimated 18.8 million hectares of forest in our province. In some regions, the blow is gently felt; in others, it has citizens very concerned about their futures as timber supply is imperative to the economic successes of their communities — to the livelihood of their families.
On May 16, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia appointed the Special Committee on Timber Supply to examine and make recommendations to address the loss of mid-term timber supply in the central interior. I was happy to be a part of this committee as I know for certain residents in the Cariboo-Chilcotin need this challenge addressed, and answers brought forward. We’ve been focused on understanding how we can possibly increase timber supply, and which areas require change to legislation and/or key implementation tools. We’ve also kept in mind things such as fiscal commitments, environmental standards, maintaining a competitive forest industry, and other rights and agreements already in place.
The public had the opportunity to contribute to this discussion by having presented at one of our public hearings which just wrapped up last week, and you still have until Friday July 20 to submit a written or video submission at www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee/written-submission.asp.
Throughout the public hearings, I was overwhelmed with the hard work and time people put into contributing to this discussion. There is a clear passion and drive from citizens invested in B.C. forests. We have received a vast amount of quality information over the last few weeks and we look forward to bringing forward our recommendations next month. The report on our findings to the Legislative Assembly is due on Aug. 15.
Ever since I was involved in the Beetle Action Coalition right from its very inception, we’ve been working hard towards diversifying our situation, and ensuring that if there is a loss, that there is still a bright future ahead.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.