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

Nearly 25,000 people cast ballots in Chilliwack

Turnout 10,000 votes higher than in 2014

Popove pledges to work hard as new mayor of Chilliwack

Ken Popove to take the helm from incumbent Sharon Gaetz

Chilliwack school board results reveal clear split

Incumbents Dan Coulter, Heather Maahs and Barry Neufeld join four new board members

Popove elected mayor in Chilliwack

Gaetz second, Waddington third; new faces on city council

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Fraser Valley man dead after head on crash in Okanagan

Accident occurred at about 7:35 a.m.

B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Dr. Juanita Crook, a Kelowna oncologist, has seen 100 per cent success using brachytherapy to treat breast cancer in some patients.

Newly-elected Lower Mainland mayor won’t drink his city’s tap water

White Rock’s Darryl Walker is concerned about its quality

Kennedy Stewart challenged with building bridges as mayor of Vancouver: expert

The former NDP MP, who ran as an Independent, will lead 10 councillors divided across four parties

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Most Read