Courtesy of the Government of BC:
Opportunities for increased local forest stewardship near Likely and Big Lake, east of Williams Lake, could become reality following an invitation from Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson to the Likely-Xatśūll Community Forest and Big Lake Community Association to apply for a community forest agreement.
The invitation to apply is for approximately 20,000 cubic metres of allowable annual cut over a 25-year term, providing 10,000 cubic metres to each partner that could be combined and used jointly in a partnership for the benefit of the local area.
The partnership will need to submit an application, including a management plan to the ministry’s district manager for approval prior to the community forest agreement being issued. The management plan will help the district manager determine details of the community forest, including its allowable annual cut.
As part of the community forest application, the Likely-Xatśūll Community Forest and Big Lake Community Association will need to demonstrate community awareness and support for the community forest, including building relationships and sharing information with neighbouring First Nations and area communities.
The invitation to apply for a community forest supports the Province’s goals in the forest sector competitiveness agenda to support rural, resource-dependent communities and to build economic capacity, community opportunities and develop partnerships with First Nations in the forest sector.
Community forest agreements are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests. A community forest is managed by a local government, community group or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community.
Coralee Oakes, MLA for Cariboo North stated –
“A new community forest under joint partnership of the Likely-Xatśūll Community Forest and Big Lake Community Association would work to stimulate the local economy, expanding employment and forest stewardship opportunities for an area that has experienced recent struggles in the resource sector. This is great news and the partners have my full support in their pending application.”
John Stace-Smith, director, Likely-Xatśūll Community Forest further commented –
“This is a great opportunity for the Likely-Xatśūll Community Forest to expand its already successful model of forest stewardship – in partnership with the Big Lake Community Association. We have already demonstrated the locally focused rewards that community forests bring and we look forward to bringing increased benefits to community members.”
Bee Hooker, president, Big Lake Community Association also commented –
“We are thrilled with this invitation to apply for a community forest jointly with Likely-Xatśūll Community Forest. Forestry is vital to our community for economic, recreational and heritage values. A successful application will result in a community forest that will create economic, educational and capacity building opportunities for Big Lake and area. With the considerable pressures that have affected jobs in the mining and forest sectors, this is extremely welcome news, giving us more opportunity to help ourselves over the long term.
“We wish to express our gratitude to Minister Thomson, to our MLA Coralee Oakes, Rural Economic Development Minister Donna Barnett, CRD Area 'F' Director Joan Sorley and all those that worked so hard to make this opportunity a reality for our community.”
Finally Chief Donna Dixon, Xatśūll First Nation (Soda Creek Indian Band) said –
“The invitation from Minister Thomson for Likely-Xatśūll Community Forest and Big Lake Community Association to apply for a community forest is exciting news for the nation and our local area. The Xatśūll First Nation fully supports the increased opportunities in forest stewardship and the community benefits derived from local management that a new community forest represents. We look forward to developing working relationships with our neighbouring communities as we move forward with the application.”