The creation of a new community forest near the Village of Burns Lake will help promote economic stability and employment opportunities, and enhance the ability for local forest stewardship, announced MLA for Nechako Lakes, John Rustad, today, on behalf of Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson.
The Chinook Community Forest Agreement covers 90,670 hectares and includes an allowable annual cut of 150,000 cubic metres. The agreement has an initial term of 25 years, and is renewable for another 25-year term after 10 years.
Creation of the Chinook Community Forest helps fulfil a provincial commitment to support opportunities to source timber for the rebuilt Babine Forest Products mill that experienced an explosion and fire on Jan. 20, 2012, resulting in loss of life. The economic hardship that followed threatened the economic sustainability of affected communities in and around Burns Lake. The new community forest aligns with recommendations in the August 2012 “Growing Fibre, Growing Value” report from the Province’s Special Committee on Timber Supply to respond to the loss of the mill.
The community forest agreement will also help support the Pinnacle Pellet mill’s continuing operation in the community.
The community forest agreement includes eight partners consisting of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, the Village of Burns Lake, Lake Babine Nation, Skin Tyee First Nation, Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band, Burns Lake Indian Band (Ts’il Kaz Koh), Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
Community forest agreements are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests. A community forest is managed by a local government, community group or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –
“This new community forest will provide added economic stability to the Village of Burns Lake and area First Nations and provide them an increased say in local forest stewardship.”
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, MLA for Nechako Lakes –
“The tragic events at Babine Forest Products altered life for many families and First Nations in Bulkley-Nechako. The creation of the Chinook Community Forest is part of the healing process, a step towards reconciliation with area First Nations, and will protect jobs for many that were affected by the loss of the mill in 2012.”
Bill Miller, chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako –
“This community forest will help maintain the social and economic fabric of the Burns Lake area by giving many families peace of mind through sustainable employment, keeping dollars in our region, and opening up opportunities for local forest management.”
Karen Ogen, president and chair, Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, and elected Chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation –
“The Babine Forest Products mill is vitally important to the economic stability of First Nations in and around Burns Lake. Many of the mill’s employees are members of the surrounding First Nations, and this community forest will keep those people working with meaningful employment – reducing economic hardship and increasing quality of life for all our communities.”
Erik Leslie, president, BC Community Forest Association –
“Congratulations to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, Village of Burns Lake and area First Nations on being awarded this community forest agreement. The BC Community Forest Association is here to support them in leveraging opportunities and reaching their goals.”
- Our Natural Advantage: A Forest Sector Strategy for British Columbia identifies community forests as a key element in supporting prosperous rural forest economies.
- Since 2004, government has signed over 52 community forest agreements with a total allowable annual cut of 1.4 million cubic metres of timber a year.