Following the May Fire Workshop, we did some further work with Greg Utzig on an alternative logging plan that would see much less logging in the Park and only in areas where Tembec's economic prescription made sense from and ecological or pine beetle salvage perspective. That plan was submitted to Tembec in early June. Tembec responded that they could not economically harvest the areas we had suggested without also harvesting some adjacent areas to make the operation worthwhile. They also suggested that there were further areas that the Ministry of Forests might ask them to log for pine beetle control/salvage. The proposed a field trip with the MOF District Manager to explain their position.
The KNPS held an emergency executive meeting on June 16th to review Tembec's response and we decided to stand firm on our proposal to only allow the kind of logging that Tembec is proposing in areas where it makes sense. We did agree with Tembec that it was time to involve the MOF District Manager in the issue and asked the City of Kimberley to set up a meeting. The City was already in the process of arranging a meeting with Tony Wideski (MOF D.M.) and that meeting occurred on June 26th. Attending were reps from the City, the KNPS and the MOF.
A number of issues were discussed at the June 26th meeting:
- The MOF would consider a variance in restocking levels in the fire interface zone so that Tembec isn’t forced to replant way more trees than fire safety allows.
- Although this should also allow Tembec to leave mature western larch trees infested with dwarf mistletoe they will likely still want to cut them down. Tony Wideski was not willing to say he would agree to leaving them.
- There is no funding available to help Tembec log in a more sensitive manner.
- If Tembec does not want to log the Park for economic reasons one alternative is to grant the City some form of Tenure. This could be a Community Forest License or a number of small Licenses to Cut. If the economics were better this might be a good option, but right now it would leave the City in a difficult financial situation.
- Tony Wideski said he believes that the Park is a source of pine beetle infection for the watershed and other areas and believes it must be dealt with.
- It became apparent at the meeting that Bob Grey, the city’s advisor and the Nature Park Society, also a City advisor are not on the same page as far as a plan for the Park. This will be a real impediment to any solution.
- Tony Wideski would like Tembec and the Nature Park Society/City to reach some agreement so he doesn’t have to impose a solution. Tembec has asked Tony to tour the Park with them on Thursday July 5th to discuss the issues. We asked Tony to include the KNPS in that field trip and he thought that was a good idea and said he would contact Tembec to make that suggestion.
On June 28th, we had a technical committee meeting to discuss Bob Gray’s latest round of computer modeling. We had originally thought he was going to model the KNPS alternative plan, but the City directed him to model an overall plan that would reduce the fire risk and meet the needs of the KNPS. Attending the meeting were Bob Gray, the City of Kimberley (Mayor, Albert Hoglund, and Fire Chief) , the Ministry of Environment (Peter Holmes) and Greg Utzig and Kent Goodwin. Tembec was invited to the meeting but declined to attend.
Bob Gray presented his plan which looked a bit like the original plan we had been working on with Tembec. One addition is that the Ministry of Environment now agrees that the Williamson's Sapsucker habitat would benefit from some thinning and so he has included that. He said that overall the computer modeling showed that this new version would meet the goal of fire safety but he was unable to say if it met the needs of the KNPS.
Greg Utzig suggested that he, as Nature Park Society consultant could get the details of Bob’s plan from him and analyze it to see if it met our needs. If it did, that would be great. If not, perhaps we could tweak it to make it meet our needs.
Everyone agreed to that approach including Bob Gray. Everyone also agreed that meeting Tembec’s economic needs was no longer an important consideration and that if we could develop a plan that met the fire goals and the needs of the Community and Nature Park, we would present it to the Province and demand that they fund it.
On July 5th, Tembec toured the Park with Tony Wideski but did not invite the City or KNPS to come along. Tony emailed the KNPS and said that he had asked Tembec to arrange a second tour which would include us, as soon as possible. As of this update we have not heard from them.
Meanwhile Greg Utzig is working with Bob Gray to determine how we might meet his fire risk reduction goals and still maintain the ecological, aesthetic and recreational values in the Park. They will be doing a couple of field trips in the Park during the week of July 23rd.
The next and hopefully final fire workshop is now scheduled for September 10th.