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

Firefighters train for ice rescue

Local emergency personnel get hands-on experience at Idlewild Lake.

WATCH: The top stories in Cranbrook this week

Take a look back at the top stories in Cranbrook between Nov. 11-17.

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

Oil dumped illegally at Tie Lake Transfer Station

The Regional District of East Kootenay is searching for any information in… Continue reading

Todd Stone campaigns in Cranbrook

BC Liberal leadership hopeful makes pitch to local supporters.

WATCH: The St. Eugene Writer’s Conference

Tapping the creative pool in the Kootenays

The bonfires of the vanities: Then and now

You feel strongly about something, strongly enough to protest it. What are the best ways to show your displeasure?

Restaurant claimed $8,000 went unpaid

Northwest Grill in Cranbrook asserts man who promised Nitros $7.5 million paid for banquet with NSF cheques

Prostate cancer awareness important with or without moustaches

Paul Rodgers November is here again, and while the Movember movement of… Continue reading

Opinion: “Don’t go where I can’t follow!”

Where will Amazon go with newly acquired rights to Lord of the Rings?

Lighthouse offers hope to those facing an abyss

New Cranbrook program supports those with recent dementia diagnosis and their caregivers

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

Most Read