Although the WSCA pilot proposal has been shopped around by the WSCA since the membership declared two years ago that we should develop a proposal to kick-start the MPB harvest and the bio-energy industry as a strategy to keep our sector and the forests in full vigour: it has been officially declined by the Ministry.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Elements of it have appeared in the FFT program and various timber sale harvest and cutting permits aimed at restoring low value beetle-attacked stands. Some of these harvest schemes have been located in order to strategically reduce the fuel hazard and threats to other landscape values and infrastructure. Using reforestation to create fuel breaks is a strategy that will likely gain momentum as our forest fires do the same. The harbingers of that practice are beginning to occur on the landscape; driven in part by the WSCA pilot.

If these programs were ramped up in size and frequency we would have something quite similar to our original pilot proposal. The volumes of bio-mass made available at a larger scale would attract buyers and help generate the demand that we contend will occur. That demand will set in motion a process to reduce the environmental threat gaining force on the land and convert it into restoration projects and economic benefit. We are persisting with the proposal recognizing that each incremental shift is a step in the right direction.

Meeting in Victoria earlier this month we pressed the Chief Forester to take a stronger advocacy role on behalf of the province’s forests. Although Jim Snetsinger sees a clear line between lobbying government and exercising his duties to inform government of the state of the forests, particularly the results of the MPB, we proposed that government might benefit if the Ministry of Forests presented our elected officials with a range of restoration options including the likes of our pilot proposal. The Chief Forester offered to take our idea under consideration.

At the same time the Ministry of Community Development, which is in charge of the province’s widely-based beetle action emergency response plan, is rewriting that strategy. Our meetings with this Ministry have been agreeable in the past leading not only to funding for safety training under the Community Development Trust Fund, but also in finding support for exploring the potential benefits of our pilot proposal. The Ministry has a mandate to view the MPB plague response through a ‘social lense’ which may allow them more latitude in considering strategies. The WSCA is arranging to meet again with key officials in this Ministry in order to see if elements of our pilot proposal can find their way into their new provincial beetle response plan.

The North Central Local Government Association has voted in support of the WSCA pilot proposal. Earlier this month a panel of WSCA representatives addressed their annual conference in Dawson Creek.

John Betts,
Executive Director
Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association
Ph: 250-229-4380

Please use the link below this article to access the report “Giving Dead Wood New Life: Salvaging BC’s Beetle-Killed Timber” from BC Stats.

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