PRINCE GEORGE- It should be no surprise to anyone. The Chief Forester has lowered the Annual Allowable Cut in BC. But City Council asked for a presentation from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development about the potential impacts, particularly on smaller, forestry-dependent communities.
"It's a point of discussion and some concern, obviously, when you reduce that allowable cut. We've had conversations regionally with communities like Vanderhoof, Quesnel, Williams Lake," says Mayor Lyn Hall, who asked the ministry officials to come before Council. "So we'll see where this goes but we want to make that allowable cut isn't reduced to a point where it has drastic impacts on outlying communities."
The AAC was set at nearly 15 cubic metres just over ten years ago in order to salvage dead pine trees. In 2011, the AAC was dropped to 12.5 million cubic metres. And, just last October, the Chief Forester announced more cuts, but a two-tier system. For the first five years, the AAC would drop to 8.3 million cubic metres and, in years six through ten, the cut would be decreased again to 7.3 million cubic metres.
When asked about the possibility of mill closures, John Pousette was reluctant to make any hard predictions.
"Our milling capacity is fairly robust here. We process, roughly, almost nine million cubic metres," he told Council. "If we see a reduction we're going to have to see mills start to process less because there will be less or, as you suggest potentially there may be some closures."
Mayor Hall also brought up the possibilities to harvest greater amounts as a result of the wildfires this past summer.
"Not only for our Prince George but we're talking as a group of Councils and Regional Districts about the entire salvageable cut opportunity for the burnt timber that's lying throughout the entire Cariboo and up into our region," he says. "And we know that there's a time line on that and I've been told that timeline is about two years to salvage that timber."
While the amount of timber lost to the fires was not as significant in Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake saw the loss of 15% to 17% of the timber land base.
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