The results are in from the public survey, conducted in September, asking residents how they felt about the operations of the Bella Coola Community Forest (BCCFL). 130 submissions were received, answering seven questions, with an additional 80 comments on how forest operations could be improved.
Part of the survey offered an entry prize and a name was picked from the submissions to win a pickup load of firewood at the last night market. Kiaya Tallio was the lucky winner and will be receiving the firewood soon.
The survey confirms that there is a need for more and better communications between the community forest and valley residents. This survey and the resulting data is a step in that direction.
There was response from a good cross section of the local communities, displaying various interests. Most people had some knowledge of the community forest but preferred to get more through the BCCFL website, the local newspaper or Facebook. Some people suggested the use of an occasional newsletter, email or public presentations as a way to get information. There was also interest in educational programs, operations tours and school field trips.
When it comes to what activities the community forest should support and develop, local employment figured highly as did a log supply for local milling. Outdoor recreation and road access was also deemed important as was financial support for environmental restoration, community infrastructure and habitat management.
Just over 88 percent of respondents reported that the community forest was meeting their expectations to some degree and 95 percent thought the management of the forest was beneficial to the community.
The comments section, asking how operations could be improved, elicited a wide variety of responses. The primary recommendation was for better communication, public consultation, information and explanation. A considerable proportion of respondents had concerns regarding stewardship and operational practices. Many wanted to see more local use of the wood and some mentioned the need to integrate Nuxalk concerns into the planning process.
The full survey, along with all the comments is posted on the Bella Coola Community Forest website at bccfl.com under the What’s New tab.
BCCFL is committed to responding to this feedback in the coming months and incorporating community concerns into future planning. These responses will also be posted on the website and notifications will be posted on the Belco Bulletin Board Facebook page when updates are made.
In addition, look for further articles about Community Forest operations in this newspaper and elsewhere. The community forest management team is very grateful for the enthusiastic response to this survey and hopes it will lead to improved long term decision making.