Reviewing 2016: Valemount Community Forest

Valemount Community Forest Manager, Craig Pryor. / RMG FILE PHOTO

by EVAN MATTHEWS

Summer is in full swing, and so are the logging operations in and around Valemount. The community forest is expecting a big year in 2017, and The Goat sat down with VCF Manager Craig Pryor to provide an update by the numbers regarding last year’s production and harvest.

Total revenue was $8.4-million with an operating budget of roughly $8-million.

VCF’s net earnings last year were roughly $368,974, roughly $78,000 more than 2015’s earnings. All income stays within the VCF, working toward the growth of the company, while creating new jobs and new industry, according to Pryor.

VCF surveyed over 500-hectares of land to ensure replanting and regrowth were meeting government standards, and Pryor says he’s pleased to see positive results.

“When we log a block we estimate what costs will be needed to bring the plantation to a free growing status… and complete surveys to confirm the plantation is still performing to our standards,” says Pryor, noting “free growing status” is sometimes halted due to brush or deciduous trees interfering with the regrowth of the cut block. If problems do arise, VCF sends in brush cutting crews to free up the trees.

“We keep money aside for the full cost of silviculture for each block. This dollar amount is constantly fluctuating as we log and plant,” he says.

In early 2016, VCF signed a long-term fibre agreement and purchased a (K5Q) forest licence from Carrier Lumber for $1.5-M, paid from its own reserves, according to Pryor.

VCF now has two community forest licenses and a small forest licence, according to Pryor, with one being the original (K2T) license with a cut of 33,000 cubic metres per year. The other is a (K5Q) license, which is the new agreement and has a cut of 35,000 cubic metres per year. Lastly, the smaller (FLA93987) license has a cut of 2,300 cubic metres per year and will be operated mostly in Robson Valley areas operated by Carrier Lumber.

The total cut in 2016 was just over 70,000 cubic metres, Pryor says, using six local companies.

The VCF successfully harvested 33,000 cubic metres on the East Canoe at 51-km, according to Pryor, as a mix of cable and conventional logging. From this, VCF made $3.2-million in revenue, but $1.2-million was paid to the Province in stumpage and $2-million to local contractors.
The VCF also completed a new forest inventory and ecosystem map in 2016 on its original Community Forest Area, according to Pryor, as a timber supply review is ongoing.

Early calculations show the VCF allowable annual cut (AAC) should increase in the future, while Pryor says VCF will know the AAC for 2017 within the month.

“We believe we need to do a better job of communicating with stakeholders and will work on a plan to hold more formal annual information sharing meetings,” — General Manager of VCF, Craig Pryor

The VCF board of directors also gave the go-ahead to start on a similar forest inventory project on the area included on the newest license.

VCF has already secured $100,000 via the Rural Dividend Fund for the newest inventory project, and will apply for another $18,000 grant via NDIT.

VCF planted 400,000 trees on logged blocks in 2016, according to Pryor, with another 300,000 trees planned for planting in 2017. Tree planting started in early May, he says.

VCF also invested $200,000 in upgrading the West Canoe Mainline Road, and installed a bridge at 10-kilometre, Pryor says, while VCF expects to fully take ownership rights to the road this summer (2017).

“The road still needs graveling in numerous sections to bring the road up to an efficient haul road,” says Pryor. “We will look into options this summer.”

The community forest is also hoping to pre-build roads in 2017 for future harvesting efforts, he says.

Local contractors will complete the vast majority of this work, including loggers, truck drivers, road builders, road maintenance contractors, scalers, surveyors, tree planters, slashers and road and block development contractors, according to Pryor, meaning roughly 35 to 40 local contractors.

However, one area Pryor believes the VCF can do a better job is in reference to its communication.

“We believe we need to do a better job of communicating with stakeholders and will work on a plan to hold more formal annual information sharing meetings,” says Pryor.

Other developments in 2016 saw the establishment of Cedar Valley Holdings (post and rail) mill in the Valemount Industrial Park, Pryor says.

VCF signed a lease deal with Dunkley Lumber out of Prince George for storing wood purchased off the open market in the industrial park, Pryor says, while Canfor has also leased five acres to store BCTS purchase wood — wood Canfor purchases from the Community Forest.

The Valemount Stone Company also now calls the Valemount Industrial Park home.

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