Annual Allowable Cut Catches Quesnel Mayor, Industry by ‘Surprise’
Quesnel, B.C. – Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson has weighed in on the new annual allowable cut announced for the Quesnel Timber Supply Area.
Released last Friday afternoon, he says it was “a surprise we got the announcement in the first place.”
“It caught not just myself, but industry off-guard. We were not expecting this announcement until the new government had formed or settled or whatever is happening down in Victoria,” Simpson tells 250News.
Though chief forester Diane Nicholls set the cut at 2,607,000 cubic metres – about 35 per cent less than the four million cubic metres set in 2011 – he calls that number into question.
“Unfortunately, I believe we didn’t get a number that we were asking for which is a real, long-term, annual allowable cut that is a sustainable harvesting level for our community through the next 10-15 years,” says Simpson.
“What we got instead is a political number that continues to pretend that the mountain pine beetle salvage area is available for commercial logging when the government knows that many of the licensees have already come out of that area.”
Simpson says the real number is 1.25 million – the live, green wood that’s available.
“Anything above that is really just opportunity wood that if people can figure out how to commercialize that wood, get it into town, make something from it, then it’s bonus to the 1.25. But 1.25 million is the number, not the 2.6 million that the government is suggesting as the allowable cut.”
He says it’s led to confusion in the community.
“It’s not allowing us to engage our community about the kinds of steps we have to take to service our future, make sure we’re thriving, some of the decisions we even have to make at council,” says Simpson.
“I’m still getting beat up by people who think we should go back to weekly garbage pick-up instead of bi-weekly because ‘hey look, the cut’s ok.’”
So where does Quesnel go from here?
“The conversation I’m having with industry here, is we need to talk about the brass tax. We need to talk about how our mills access wood outside of our timber supply area, which they’ve been doing for some time,” he says.
“We have to talk about the next 10-20-year window where the industry has to transition to younger and younger stands because embedded in the new annual allowable cut is that we’re moving away from 80-100-year-old trees to 50-60-year-old trees.”
He says the fibre characteristic, the kind of products those 50-60-year-old trees will make will be “fundamentally different” than what current industry makes.
“We need to take the next 10-years to really reinvent our industry so that we can continue to create jobs from our forest fibre. So, I think we’re okay here for the next little while. The real issue for us is to plan for that transition.”