Visual quality concerns are important in the many magnificent landscapes of the Eniyud Community Forests near Tatla Lake. Jim Hilton photo

Visual quality concerns are important in the many magnificent landscapes of the Eniyud Community Forests near Tatla Lake. Jim Hilton photo

Managing a community forest is not just about dividends

Columnist Jim Hilton explores managing community forests

While community forests provide the opportunity for residents to use dividends from timber harvest profits to pay for some important local projects there are also many other concerns associated with the annual harvest plans.

On May 23 of this year, I attended the Tatla Resource Association (TRA) annual general meeting (AGM) in the Tatla Lake community hall.

As a summer resident of the area for more than three decades, I am allowed membership and voting rights in the TRA.

One of the main functions of the TRA is to jointly manage the Eniyud Community Forest (ECF) along with the Alexis Creek First Nation.

Based on a 2008 inventory and analysis the 115,000-hectare community forest had a timber harvest land base of 44,048 ha and annual allowable cut (AAC) of 40,000 cubic meters.

Like other areas in the Chilcotin the ECF was hard hit by the mountain pine beetle (MPB).

According to the original inventory, pine made up approximately 80 percent of the harvestable timber volume and if the majority of pine was not usable the AAC would only be 13,000 cubic meters.

In 2016 an updated analysis was done using an estimate of the pine mortality which showed the cut should be around 33.3 thousand cubic meters from a timber harvest land base of 41,234 hectares.

Unfortunately some recent timber sales show the volume recovered was considerably less than the new analysis had predicted.

Even more concerning is the increase in the fir bark beetle (FBB) which is threatening the forests that were to replace the MPB losses.

With the uncertainty of the pine volume and increase in FBB, the directors and general manager Gord Chipman have decided to focus on the harvest of FBB stands and reduce the AAC to 20 thousand cubic meters until they are more comfortable with the original AAC.

The only way to accurately determine the AAC is to do a new inventory and analysis but that is costly and not prudent considering the uncertainty of controlling the FBB.

One of the discussions on the agenda was the funding and location of fire guards for the protection from wildfires that threatened some of the communities last year.

Of particular concern was the Kleena Kleene wildfire which was upwind from communities like Tatla Lake.

The potential locations of fire guards generated considerable discussion over concerns about recreation, trap lines, cattle grazing and types of guards to be constructed.

Using the traditional approach to remove trees and vegetation along existing roads and trails was discussed but it was pointed out that a new approach of also incorporating shaded fire guards.

The experience gained from fighting the 2017 wildfires showed aggressive wildfires crossed major highways, hydro and gas line right of ways and even the Fraser River where as shaded fire guards seemed to slow the fires so they could be controlled easier.

Many of the residents use firewood as the main heating source so it has been has always been a concern of how to use any residual harvesting material rather than burning it in cull piles.

The three-plus hours of travel to the main timber processing facilities has always been a challenge for marketing the timber but the location in the coast mountains provides many other opportunities in recreation, tourism, ranching and trapping.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

Quesnel Kangaroos forward Justin Fulton (17) fires the puck on Stampeders goaltender Matt Brenner’s (37) during a contest at the West Fraser Centre in Quesnel last season. (Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Stamps, Central Interior Hockey League, cancel 2020/21 season

The team said it would like to thank the community, its fans, volunteers and sponsors

Linda Symynuk (Photo submitted)
New cookbook revives Thyme for Tea, supports Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddle Society

Proceeds from book sales will go directly to the non-profit group

School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark confirmed Lake City Secondary School’s Williams Lake campus has a confirmed case of COVID-19. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
COVID-19 case confirmed at Lake City Secondary School, Williams Lake campus

The individual is self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Most Read