Ways to combat local forestry job loss by 2020 discussed

A significant reduction on the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) in the Williams Lake TSA could come in less than five years.

Most people may not realize that a significant reduction on the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) in the Williams Lake TSA could come in less than five years.

If you read the fine print in the latest Chief Forester report there are some circumstances that could force a reduction before the estimated 10-year reduction period identified by the forest model.

Most, if not all, AAC rationales  emphasize the final number is a determination and not just a calculation from a forest modeling exercise.

The “AAC Rational for Williams Lake TSA February 2015” is a good example.

Chief Forester Dave Peterson describes the base case harvest level of 3.4 million cubic metres per year being sustainable for 10 years before decreasing to a midterm level of 1.4 million cubic meters for 60 years and then increasing to 2.99 cubic metres as a long-term harvest level.

These numbers come from a computer model (a calculation not a determination).

The author goes on to describe his determination of three million cubic metres (not 3.4) is derived from a review of risk factors, current management practices and socio-economic objectives of the Crown.

He then describes the constraints associated with his determination. The AAC includes a maximum of 1.5 million cubic metres per year for live trees, which also leaves half of the harvest for salvaging dead trees killed by the mountain pine beetle and other agents.

He goes on to say that non pine-leading stands contribute a maximum of .88 million cubic metres and the remaining live component will come from the live volume of beetle-killed pine leading stands.

He also describes more than 15 considerations which will impact the determination and he expects companies to meet the constraints.

Ministry of Forests and Range are charged with monitoring the harvesting so Peterson can decide if he will revisit his determination in five years, rather than 10.

My concern is that there is very little mention of options for roadside logging material.

There is mention of low productivity sites being considered for bioenergy use in the future but following tradition the main focus is on logs for lumber production.

In my opinion the chief forester should have discretionary powers to require studies on the use of cull material for uses in the power and pellet plants rather than burning it in the field.

This is especially important for the residents of Williams Lake who are faced with the possibility of having future fibre come from creosoted railroad ties.

As stated in previous articles the forest models are capable of calculating a detailed profile of where and how much roadside material would be produced from the various AAC calculations and this information should be used in a study which compares the socio-economic and environmental considerations of the various  options.

I encourage all residents to contact your town council and CRD representatives and urge them to have qualified contractors look at some of these alternatives in the five to 10 year period before people are laid off because of the reduced AAC.

In particular what is being done with the Cariboo Chilcoin Beetle Action Coalition funds that were supposed to be used for creating job opportunities to reduce the impact of the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic.

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.