By Andru McCracken

Valemount Community Forest held its AGM on April 24th and Manager Craig Pryor said 2018 was a very positive and busy year. The community forest has been divided into two limited partnerships, separating the forest activities from their role as owner of the Valemount Industrial Park.

In 2018 the operation had a total revenue of $7.1 million, total expenses of $5.9 million and a net earning of $1.1 million.

Pryor said that the VCF has almost a million dollars put away to tend the forest and plant trees in areas they have cut.

The sheer variety of uses of the Valemount Industrial Park are visible from the air, rocks, log sorts, a cedar mill and a storage area for Trans Mountain’s pipe. / ANDRU MCCRACKEN

“The VCF total equity is $7.6 million up from $6.6 million from 2017,” said Pryor. “We are financially healthy, debt free and able to invest capital where necessary.”

The community forest has a total cut of 97,000 cubic metres (a cubic metre is about the equivalent of a telephone pole) of wood from this year onward thanks to a new wood lot and an uplift on one license. .

The community forest used four local logging contractors.

“We have just completed a forest inventory and ecosystem mapping for the new community forest area,” said Pryor. “We have submitted the timber supply review for First Nations review and to the government and expect an increase in the annual allowable cut.”

The community forest is also using a new technology called LIDAR to help them better manage the forest.

New Growth
The community forest planted 500,000 trees on logged blocks in 2018 and they have plans to plant 310,000 trees for 2019.

They will be using local contractors to brush plantations in the spring removing deciduous trees.

Roads, fires, bugs and bridges
The community forest invested in access roads in their area to help them access their increased allowable cut and deal with threats posed by spruce and fir beetles as well as forest fires.

Fire preparedness
Pryor said their plans did not move as quickly as they had hoped to abate the fire risk in the main valley between Valemount and Tete Jaune.

“We are starting to work on cutting permit applications for five blocks in the Valemount to Tete Jaune area,” he said.

The blocks were identified in fire preparedness plans and by the local fire crew as high risk stands.

Local work
Pryor said that the community forest employed 35 to 40 contractors over the in 2018.

Valemount Industrial Park Limited Partnership

Pryor reports that Cedar Valley Holdings shake, shingle and post and rail mill is almost at full production going from four employees to 12.

“It shows great promise” said Pryor.

An array of other enterprises are using the industrial park, including Dunkley Lumber (10 acres), CANFOR (5 acres) the Valemount Stone Company (5 acres), furniture makers Treasures of the Forest leases 1.5 acres, a track maintenance company based called Remcan leases the rail siding and Trans Mountain Pipeline is leasing 30 acres for pipe storage.

Also Robson Valley Gourmet Mushrooms signed a lease agreement to set up a small operation in the industrial park close to the office.

The community forest is using the industrial park too.

“We are finding it very useful to have clean up loads brought into the yard that we can sort out and sell to local mills,” he said.

Recreation and grants
Pryor said people are using community forest roads for recreation.

“We are extremely happy to see the 5-Mile recreation area doing so well,” said Pryor. “The bike runs are drawing people from all over and have had a big impact on the tourism economy.”

They contributed close to $45,000 for local community support initiatives in 2018.

A mill
Pryor said the community forest is researching ways to deal with waste fibre, a key issue that is preventing more manufacturing on site.

“It’s a major cost to haul waste to a larger center which makes manufacturing in Valemount very difficult,” he said. “We are working at setting up an air dispersion model and possibly more meteorological towers in order to learn more of how air flows in the valley and what impact we could have on the Village air quality.”

Pryor said small sawmill operations could help them deal with specific wood types that are difficult to haul to market.

“We are keeping the capital safe so we can act when we find the correct fit,” he said.

“The mandate from the village is ‘to develop and strengthen the economic diversity of the community”¦’ This is where we are directed.”