Logs await sawmilling at Prince George. (Canfor Corp.)

Northern timber supply reduction less than it appears

Doug Donaldson must divide remaining supply after pine beetle

The B.C. government’s decision to reduce the annual allowable timber harvest in the Prince George region by a third isn’t as drastic as it appears, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says.

The allowable harvest level has been unusually high to allow for salvage harvest of beetle-killed timber in the vast northern region, which includes Prince George, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake and other small communities.

In an interview with Black Press, Donaldson noted that the true impact of the reduction is only eight per cent. The allowable cut was set at 12.5 million cubic metres in 2011, but the average harvest in the past five years has been only 9.1 million.

“I think most licensees knew that there was an uplift due to the pine beetle salvage situation, so the chief forester has made her determination,” Donaldson said. “That’s a statutory decision-making authority that she has to take that into account, not only the sustainability of the cut but the social and economic factors as well.”

It typically takes up to a year for the ministry to determine what licensees get what share of the allowable harvest, and Donaldson said he will consult with licence holders, communities and first nations during that time.

After evaluating forest stands, fire and insect impact and the need to preserve habitat for a declining moose population, Chief Forester Diane Nicholls set a further reduction to take place after five years, down to 7.35 million cubic metres.

There was sawmill consolidation in the B.C. Interior earlier in the beetle epidemic, the largest recorded for B.C. In March 2014, Canfor closed its mill in Quesnel and West Fraser closed its mill in Houston, trading timber harvest permits in those areas to support remaining mills.

Donaldson declined to comment on the possibility of further closures. The Prince George timber supply area currently supports 13 lumber mills, three pulp mills, one utility mill, four pellet operations, two cogeneration plants and a bioenergy facility.

The higher cut until 2022 allows for further salvage logging of fire- and beetle-damaged trees.

The Prince George region extends from near the Alberta border in the southeast to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the southwest and Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park in the northwest, an area of almost 80,000 square kilometres.

Just Posted

Hub International to close Bella Coola office March 28

Company says staff shortages to blame

Dry weather leads to historic low water levels in local rivers

The prolonged cold, coupled with the lack of precipitation, has contributed to the situation

Bella Coola businesses still eligible for Wildfire Business Transition Training Program

Small businesses are eligible to apply for reimbursement of training expenses up to $10,000

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

Wally Webber elected to fourth term as Nuxalk Chief Councilor

Webber took the win with 174 votes out of a total of 389

VIDEO: 13-year-old killed in B.C. crash that involved five kids

The children range in age from six to 17.

MPs denounce leaked reports of Trudeau-JWR clash over Supreme Court pick

Opposition MPs called the leaks an act of desperation meant to smear Wilson-Raybould

Study says B.C.’s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for eviction

The study involves 50 people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

VIDEO: Homicide team called in after three killed in Surrey car crash

Investigators ask public to come forward with information, dashcam video

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

UPDATED: Sailings resume after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Vancouver Island home to B.C.’s luckiest lotto store

Five million-dollar winners have bought tickets from same Port Alberni corner store

Most Read