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Mayor’s Report – November 28, 2013

Meet the Mayor

November 28

Last week a group of representatives from the Community Forest Partners (District of Chetwynd, West Moberly, and Saulteau First Nations), the Community Forest Board, and West Fraser Mills (Contracted by the Board to manage the first logging of the Community Forest) gathered at the District office to celebrate the firstfruits of years of work to bring on line the Chetwynd Community Forest. We waited impatiently for the Mounsey truck to arrive. He’s just 15 minutes out; now he’s five minutes away; there he is; yes, he’s turning at the North Access Road. As the massive load is parked beside the District office we all gather for the photo.

The beginning work that culminated in this load of logs, and many more loads of logs still to come, goes way back to the early days of Evan Saugstad as Mayor of Chetwynd. It was his vision and his persistence and his working with Saulteau and West Moberly that saw the project past the early days when it would have been easier to not do anything and just let the status quo be what it wants to be. But the Partners persisted and now we are benefitting from the harvest of logs.

The first harvest is the beetle kill pine that has a rapidly diminishing shelf life. These trees must be harvested within the next two to three years before they start to blow down and are overtaken by rot and check. Financially to the partners, this means that the revenues from the first few years will be much higher than revenues in subsequent years. It also means that the partners must not be seduced by a false picture of the capacity of the Community Forest. The revenues from the first harvest of beetle kill will have to be stretched over many years to finance the operations of the Community Forest. Once the Board has a clear picture of the cost of operating the Community Forest for the next couple of decades, it can determine how much revenue can be disbursed to the Partners for the purposes intended in the Community Forest proposal.

I know the Board will be reporting from time to time on progress in the harvesting processes, but I will touch very briefly on some of the activity that has been going on over the last few months. Apparently we just can’t head out into the bush with a chain saw and start buzzing off the trees. There’s a government out there in the mists and governments make rules with teeth. Archaeological studies have to confirm that there are no sensitive sites in the proposed cut blocks. Cut blocks have to be laid out and mapped. Roads have to be built and, if prior rights intervene, satisfactory negotiations have to be completed.

West Fraser Mills has been very busy on our behalf and, as a representative of one of the Partners, I confess that I am thankful to see the experts involved for us.

Merlin Nichols, Mayor