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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, the TLA and our supporters write letters to the editors of BC's many newspapers. These letters often explain the work our members do and the value they add to the community. They try to back up, look at the larger picture and see how we can work together to protect and harvest BC's working forest.

Letter to the Editor - Powell River Peak, March 22, 2017
 
Rhetoric on log exports has ramped up since they were last discussed in the Peak [“Conference pushes green economy,” December 7,] and now I must speak.
 
Unfortunately, from the point of view of someone operating a mill in BC, our forests grow a variety of species with many different qualities (log grades) in any one stand.
 
However, BC mills are largely set up to manufacture only specific species and grades of log, usually the higher value timber species and grades. This results in logs on the market that either do not fit mill needs or are in excess of what the mills have capacity for. These are the logs that are exported.
 
To stop log exports would make it economically difficult to harvest much of our working forest and would mean loggers and sawmill workers would not be employed.
 
We must remember that BC mills always have first refusal to purchase logs that are exported and at significantly lower cost than the export price.
 
If and when there is a viable opportunity to manufacture this excess timber locally, mills will be built in BC. Until that time, we need a certain amount of log export.
 
Howie McKamey
 
Letter to the Editor - Coast Reporter, October 6, 2016
 
There has been discussion about Mount Elphinstone lately, including the spread of misinformation that requires clarification and correction.
 
First, I wish to reassure your readers that this government is committed to sustainable forest management. Under the Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations, we manage our Crown forests for different resource values that include recreation, soils, sustainable timber supply, wildlife, water, fish, biodiversity, visual landscapes and cultural resources. In addition, BC Timber Sales (BCTS) has achieved independent, sustainable forest management certification on its Sunshine Coast operating areas, including for Mount Elphinstone.
 
To imply that there has been a lack of community consultation is disingenuous. When it comes to community consultation, BCTS shares its five-year harvest plans annually and meets regularly with First Nations, local governments and community groups. BCTS has consistently worked with local stakeholders to meet community concerns, including buffering trails of importance to the local community, removing four cutblocks from its plans, incorporating specific measures to protect riparian and aquatic areas, only harvesting at half the rate that the area can support, and the addition of new old-growth management areas.
 
Additionally, the three-unit, 141-hectare Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park was established in 2000 as part of the Lower Mainland Protected Areas Strategy – the same process that established the 6,000-hectare Tetrahedron Provincial Park nearby that protects the headwaters of Chapman Creek – which involved extensive community consultation, including with local governments and stakeholder groups. Overall, parks and recreation areas in the Sunshine Coast Regional District total 15,400 hectares and more than 2,900 hectares of old-growth management areas.
 
There are no plans to expand the existing park since the current land use designations balance environmental, social and economic forest values for the area.
 
The current timber sale licence area is second-growth forest, and specific measures incorporated into the design of the cutblocks include retaining veteran Douglas fir trees that survived historical fire and logging, buffering a popular mountain bike trail from harvest and placing additional setbacks on streams. Changes were made to address concerns raised through consultation with local government and other interested parties.
 
By law, all areas harvested on public land in B.C. must be reforested. Reforestation ensures the opportunity to sustainably manage B.C.’s forests for generations to come and the newly planted trees help our fight against climate change by fixing carbon as they grow. In fact, the carbon stored in wood products made from B.C. forests can remain sequestered for 100 years and beyond.
 
As part of a BCTS auction, the licensee won the right to log the cutblocks according to legal terms within their licence. However, they have been confronted with physical blockades, damage to equipment and encampments. While all Canadians have the right to protest, they should do so safely and responsibly. Some protesters are endangering themselves and others by not taking the necessary safety precautions in a working forest.
 
Continued discussion in the right forums and understanding of each other’s points of view are the best ways to work together.
 
Steve Thomson
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Letter to the Editor - Coast Reporter, September 29, 2016

I’ve spoken to BC Timber Sales (BCTS) and confirmed the only trees being harvested in Block A87125 are mature second-growth less than 145 years old. There are some veteran trees in the stand – trees that survived the fire 400 years ago – and those trees are being preserved for biodiversity.
 
I absolutely agree that we need to protect B.C.’s forests and that is being done here. In the Mount Elphinstone area alone, there are more than 2,900 hectares of old growth management areas, with some established along Mount Elphinstone Park boundaries. Over and above B.C.’s strict forestry regulations, BCTS has also planned to leave a buffer of trees along a popular mountain biking trail and has extended the tree buffer along streams within Block A87125. This is a great example of small patch, innovative and sustainable harvesting.
 
The harvesting planning process takes several years and involves many legal requirements and technical assessments, so BCTS wants to understand community concerns in advance of doing that work. To that end, BC Timber Sales signed an MOU with the Sunshine Coast Trails Society (SCTS) in 2015 which formally recognizes the society’s role maintaining trails on the lower Coast and provided funding from BC Timber Sales for trail maintenance. Much of the trail access on the Sunshine Coast – for mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders – is dependent on logging roads, both active and historical.
 
Over and above the local jobs created by the logging contractors, log sorts and small mills on the Sunshine Coast, BCTS generated $20 million in gross revenue from the Sunshine Coast in 2015-16. That $20 million helps fund important things like the $41 million budget for School District 46 and the $44 million expansion of the Sechelt Hospital. Timber harvesting on the Sunshine Coast supports the local economy and creates jobs so people can work where they live.
 
More information about Block A87125 can be found here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/bc-timber-sales-and-timber-sale-licence-a87125-on-mount-elphinstone
 
David Elstone, RPF
Roberts Creek Resident and TLA Executive Director

Letter to the Editor - The Tyee
RE: Experts Grade Premier’s Forestry Teaching Moment, by Chris Cheung, published on April 15, 2016
 
Premier Christy Clark’s anecdote about the impact of harvesting fewer trees during her speech at the Council of Forest Industries convention in Kelowna last week was to make the point that this province’s forest resource is vital to our province’s success. Awareness of that fact is often ignored—sometimes intentionally—by the detractors of our great forest industry. 
 
Logging the forest resource provides tax revenues that finance the healthcare, education and social services British Columbians have come to rely on. So when conservation voices trump those of the forest industry (rightly or wrongly); it does threaten the livelihoods of families in communities throughout the province. And it undermines our society’s ability to provide the goods and services we depend on.  
 
There are 67,000 job created by the forest industry in BC by harvesting both old growth and second growth forests. TLA members—independent timber harvesting contractors and their suppliers—are part of this. They are the economic backbone of BC’s rural communities. They create local jobs that allow people to live where they work and they give back to their communities. And one of the best parts of about the forest industry is it’s sustainable and renewable!
 
Premier Clark is the top person in the province accountable for ensuring our government delivers on providing schools, highways and hospitals—critical services we all rely on. So I applaud her for taking a stand and raising the awareness of the economic impacts of our decisions regarding BC’s working forest.
 
David Elstone, RPF 
Executive Director
The Truck Loggers Association
 

Letter to the Editor - Nanaimo News Bulletin
RE: Forest minister won't cancel requirement to harvest at Lantzville woodlot, by Tamara Cunningham, published on January 20, 2016
 
Thank you to Minister Steve Thomson for supporting Woodlot 1475 in Lantzville as part of BC’s working forest. A well-managed working forest is sustainable and creates local, good paying jobs for people in the community.
 
I know planning harvest operations close to town can invoke the interests of many stakeholders and, as a result, can be challenging to manage. However, what better way to have forestry done in these rural-urban interface areas than with small scale harvesting done by local residents? It’s low impact, small in size and the benefits stay local as well. 
 
Woodlot 1475 was acquired ten years ago and this is the fourth harvest in that time. It is 245 hectares and each harvest has been three to five hectares in size—approximately two per cent of the entire woodlot area. The trees planted after the first harvest are now 10 to 12 feet tall and make a healthy young forest.
 
There’s currently lots of mountain biking and hiking along trails in the woodlot and that will continue as it has during the previous three harvests. It’s public land and the woodlot license holder encourages the public to use the area for recreation. 
 
Lantzville and Nanaimo—communities built by the forest industry that continue to prosper due to forestry—have a chance here to set a good example for the rest of the province. It’s not an either/or situation: forestry or recreation. It’s forestry and recreation. By sharing the resource we can all win.
 
Dave McNaught, Director
The Truck Loggers Association
Resident of Lantzville, BC
See this letter on the Nanaimo News Bulletin website.

Letter to the Editor - Business in Vancouver
RE: Residential development boom looms for Squamish, by Glen Korstrom, published in issue June 23-29, 2015 
 
Your reference to Squamish as a “former forestry town” caught my eye. The forest industry has always been a vital part of Squamish and continues to be an established economic driver.  
 
Just across the water from this proposed rezoning area is a key transportation hub for the BC forest industry. It’s home to dry-land sorting, tidewater booming, storage and transportation for all logs coming out of the Squamish Forest District as well as logs trucked from the Interior. 
 
Loggers and forest professionals spend their days in the forest where they aren’t visible to the public. But make no mistake, forestry is still a large part of Squamish’s economy and Howe Sound’s as a whole. 
 
David Elstone, RPF
Executive Director
The Truck Loggers Association

Letter to the Editor - Vancouver Sun, Who to believe on state of our forestry sector?
Re: Forest Industry stands tall again, Opinion, Feb. 10, 2015
I am puzzled by the optimistic piece on the forest industry. In contrast, the winter 2015 Truck Logger BC magazine, reported that:
  1. The Central Interior Logging Association office closed in the fall of 2014;
  2. There are fewer buyers of yellow cedar logs at any price, with booms of inventory languishing in Lower Mainland storage locations;
  3. Two prominent logging contractors, sold their equipment by auction in Chilliwack, last fall;
  4. A logger’s grandson, “…had recently entered the business as a skilled equipment operator ... left logging and gone north to work in other industries.”
Is someone seeing things better in The Vancouver Sun, or worse in the Truck Logger BC magazine, than they really are?
 
Ray Travers, RPF (Ret.)

Letter to the Editor - North Shore News

I’m writing in response to the article, “Gambier woodlots put on hold,” published on July 2, 2014.
 
I own the existing woodlot on Gambier Island. My family first came to Gambier in 1912 and I moved to Gambier from North Vancouver in 1968. Everyone said I was nuts to come to Gambier. They said I’d never get a job. But I found work and then in 1990 I received approval for my 400 hectare woodlot.
 
The people I see and talk to on Gambier support my woodlot. When I build roads I leave them there for the future. People like it because they can walk through the forest. More people are coming over to the island now because of the openings and the trails the woodlot creates.
 
Some people are worried about the two new woodlots tendered for sale on Gambier. I don’t think there’s reason to be. The woodlot program makes sense for this kind of area. Woodlots are usually locally owned and operate with local contractors. Because of their smaller size and local ties, they’re a good tenure for working with community members.  
 
And it won’t be logged all at once as was suggested in the article. With an annual cut of 3,000 m3 for each woodlot, it’ll take approximately 100 years to fully harvest both woodlots. I can testify to the fact that in 100 years the first new trees planted will be 150 feet tall. There’s also a lot of regulations and planning in forestry. They won’t be logging near streams or beside the lake. But the roads they build will be great hiking trails for years to come. A lot of the trails we use now in the area are from logging that happened in the 1940s.
 
Finally, woodlots prevent development. Anywhere there is private property on Gambier and someone can get their hands on it, it gets developed. I know development is not always a bad thing, but I like the woods. 
 
Bill Errico
Gambier Island Woodlot Owner

Letter to the Editor - “Lumberjack” not an Endangered Job
 
The National Post did Canadian youth a disservice in their Careers Section with the US-based story titled; “The 10 most endangered jobs of 2014: Mail carrier, newspaper reporter, lumberjack”. (July 15, 2014)
 
The use of the term “lumberjack” to describe the countless number of highly skilled professionals that work in the Canadian forest industry should have been the first clue that the US study "is not applicable here".  That term usually refers to a bygone era (pre-World War II), when hand tools were used in harvesting trees. 
 
However, more to the point, the US study links the societal-move from newspapers to digital news with dramatically lower demand for woodpulp, which may be true in the US South where a large proportion of their harvest involves trees that are grown specifically to supply paper mills. Here in Canada, and particularly BC, more than 90 per cent of the fibre input for pulp and paper mills comes in the form of residual chips and sawdust from sawmills after lumber and other higher value products are produced.  As such, the decline in the newsprint industry is not impacting forest harvesting here.
 
Another troubling aspect of this story is the complete contradiction of recent human resource reports on the skills shortage in the Canadian forest sector. Notable, in 2011, the Forest Products Sector Council released their report, Renewing Canada's Greenest Workforce: A Labour Market Intelligence Report, stating that Canada's forest products sector would require as little as 40,000 to as many as 120,000 new workers by 2020. Closer to home, a 2013 BC Forest Sector Labour Market Analysis projected 4,700 job openings on the BC coast alone, between now and 2022, about half of the current workforce. Further, 75 per cent of those are in job categories already experiencing high vacancy rates, such as hand fallers (17 per cent), forestry workers including forest professionals (13 per cent) and logging machine operators (7 per cent). 
 
Finally—and this applies to the US South as well—dramatic increases in demand for wood fibre are forecast worldwide, both as climate-friendly sources of energy (compared to fossil fuels) and for the development of unique biomaterials from wood lignin (e.g., explosives, high-end textiles, biodegradable plastic substitutes, etc.). 
 
Thus, rather than reductions in forest harvesting jobs, the opportunity for Canadian youth to secure high-paying, sustainable forestry jobs has never looked better!
 
Dwight Yochim, RPF
Executive Director
The Truck Loggers Association

Letter to the Editor - Coast Reporter: Voice of the Sunshine Coast
 
In the article “BCTS urged to spare old-growth forest,” published on July 26, Garry Nohr, Chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, was quoted as stating “I feel [BCTS is] listening and they’re trying to work with us, and to make it work we have to work with them too. We just can’t say put a moratorium on all logging.”
That’s exactly true. We have to work together. And the goal can’t be ending all forestry on the Sunshine Coast.
 
If we further reduce the size of our sustainable working forest, BC’s coastal communities and the province will give up real jobs and lose millions of dollars of local revenue that pays for schools and hospitals.
 
Often in the media, it’s implied that the working forest — the land base available for logging — is really big. But here’s how the numbers actually breakdown:
  • There’s 15.8 million hectares in the Coast Forest Region land base. That’s all the land — towns, golf courses, highways, parks, forests.
  • Of that 15.8 million hectares, 7.6 million hectares (48 per cent) is productive forest — land that produces trees big enough to harvest.
  • There’s 3.14 million hectares that’s protected. That’s 20 per cent of the land base.
  • There’s only 2.5 million hectares in the timber harvesting land base, the land where active forest management is allowed to occur. That’s 16 per cent of the land base.
We also need acknowledge the 55,000 old growth management areas in BC, which exist separate from the parks system, covering an area of 3.9 million hectares. The trees under discussion are not “the last of the old growth.”
 
As these five cutblocks have been through a thorough planning process over the last two and a half years, I encourage BCTS to finalize the blocks for bid this year. 
 
Dwight Yochim, RPF
Executive Director
The Truck Loggers Association

Letter to the Editor - Campbell River Mirror
 
Forestry and Tourism: Sharing the Land Base and Working Together
 
“It’s only fair we get more than lip service when it comes to forestry management," said Ralph Keller, spokesman for the Discovery Islands Marine Tourism Group, in Paul Rudan’s article, “Maurelle Island logging to proceed in spite of opposition,” published on July 2, 2013.
 
I would argue the tourism community has got much more than lip service. They’ve been heard and accommodated. 
 
BC Timber Sales (BCTS) has a forest stewardship plan for the Discovery Island area that was developed with public consultation in 2005 and the decisions made in that plan are legally binding.
 
Above and beyond the forest stewardship plan, BCTS has worked with the local tourism operators to ensure there is limited visual impact from the water of the cutblocks on Maurelle Island. BCTS also included a condition in the two-year timber sale licence that no barging of logs can take place during summer kayak season even though summer is also prime logging season.
 
Overall, the timber sale is expected to provide $4.85 million in stumpage revenue directly to the government. (Stumpage revenue is the money forest companies pay the government for each cubic metre of wood harvested.) This stumpage revenue will help support our schools, hospitals and roads.
Setting stumpage aside, the logging, sorting and hauling of this timber will generate work for 200 local forest industry workers. These are good, reliable, high-paying jobs that allow people to continue to live and work in their hometown.
The Truck Loggers Association has 84 member companies in Campbell River. Each of these companies hires local employees, pays local property taxes and buys city business licenses. Their employees shop locally and are part of the community. Forestry is good for Campbell River’s bottom line.
 
Campbell River’s tourism industry has grown over the last 20 years alongside active logging and harvested blocks. I think that’s good news because it means tourism and logging can thrive side-by-side in the Georgia Strait. 
 
What we need here is a change in perspective. Instead of apologizing for a visible cutblock, ecotourism operators need to explain three things. First, the trees were harvested sustainably and created jobs for local British Columbians. Second, those new trees will be left to grow for decades and then they’ll be harvested again. Third, most of the forest on and around the Discovery Islands was harvested once already and now it’s beautiful, healthy second growth. 
 
Dwight Yochim, RPF
Executive Director
The Truck Loggers Association

Letter to the Editor - Campbell River Mirror
 
RE: Loggers and kayakers step up their campaigns
 
Yes, tourism has developed a lot over the last 20 years. But if economics is the measure we’re using, forestry will still win out.  
 
In 2012, the coastal harvest resulted in $62.7 million in stumpage revenue. (Stumpage revenue is the money forest companies pay the government for each cubic metre of wood harvested.) And this is just revenue paid directly to the government by forest companies. 
 
As for local jobs, forestry isn’t creating “a few jobs” in Campbell River. The Truck Loggers Association has 84 member companies in Campbell River. Each of these companies hires local employees, pays local property taxes and buys city business licenses. Their employees buy locally and are part of the community. Many of these companies have operated in Campbell River for decades and are now run by the second or third generation. Despite our name, all these companies aren’t logging companies. We have equipment sales people, tugboat operators and safety consultants in our ranks. Forestry is a broad industry.
 
There’s been lots of forestry taking place on the coast over the last 25 years. So if the tourism industry has grown over the last 25 years, it must have grown alongside active logging and harvested blocks. Evidence seems to be that forestry hasn't negatively impacted tourism sales.
 
So I’ll say it again. It’s not tourism or logging. It’s tourism and logging. BC has a resource based economy. There will be visible cutblocks on the coast. But forestry is the best kind of natural resource – renewable and sustainable. 
 
If we further reduce the size of our sustainable working forest, BC’s coastal communities and the province will give up real jobs and lose millions of dollars. That’s not a good plan. I know forestry and tourism can work together to minimize the impact we have on each other and make sure both industries remain strong on BC’s coast.
 
Dwight Yochim, RPF
Executive Director
The Truck Loggers Association