As I meet with people in the community, many have questions and concerns regarding the Nemiah land claims.
I am not a news reporter, nor do I have unlimited knowledge about community concerns.
Never-the-less, I continue to be bombarded with questions regarding the Nemiah land claims, many in the community would like clarifying answers as to what the settlement of these land claims really mean.
One question that has often been brought to my attention I place within this letter, hopefully someone, maybe even from the Nemiah band would like to take the time to address the expressed concerns.
One very strong concern that has been expressed revolves around the question of who foots the bill? In the non-native community obtaining ownership to something means responsibility, responsibility being mostly financial.
As an example a typical very large corporation, could be a ranch, a forest company, a mining company or even lastly a typical home owner. The financial responsibility for lands and property is with the owner, one example might be a large forest corporation, and say an uncontrolled forest fire broke out within the corporation’s forest responsibility.
In the days of provincial forest licenses, and from my experience, it was the responsibility of that corporation to bear the burden and expense in fighting that fire.
Although the corporation may not have to bear the total cost of fighting such a fire, because of the fees, licenses and taxes that the corporation has to pay to the provincial government in the process of the logging, sawmilling, and or pulp mill operation, if that is the case.
Of course it is recognized that most band structure is not financially self sufficient in income structure, so the question is, now that the Nemiah people have settled their land claims, who would pay to fight a forest fire within this greater land claims decision?
A forest fire in this lands claim decision is a concern not only for the average B.C. tax payer, but could as well, be placing an unfair burden on major corporations in how they, from now forward, deal with issues on lands of their responsibility.
Having been at the forefront of past forest fires, quick response with adequate resources is critical to saving lives, property and animal welfare. The question being raised by many is someone aware of these concerns, and what is being done to address these concerns?