By Andru McCracken

General Manager Ray Thiessen confirmed the McBride Community Forest Corporation is looking into harvesting opportunities outside their current operating area.

“A community forest, like any organization, is looking for opportunities,” he said.

He is loath to call their investigation of the forests beyond the western limit of the McBride Community Forest an ‘expansion plan,’ because they are just beginning the formal process of looking at what is there and developing the relationships that would be required if they were to do so.

Thiessen said they have applied for a grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) to conduct a timber supply analysis in Prince George East.

“The purpose of this analysis is to gather information with the goal of developing strategic partnerships in the region,” he said.

Prince George East is rich in cedar, the kind that drives post and rail mills in McBride.

Thiessen said there are disincentives built into the appraisal system that prevent major tenure holders from logging in the area and, as a result, very little cedar appropriate for McBride’s post and rail mills is being made available on the open market.

A community forest doesn’t have to deal with the same disincentives, because they don’t use the appraisal system; instead they use tabular rates.

“There is an advantage for a community forest to act in those profiles,” he said.

Thiessen is not concerned about an Old Growth Strategic Review currently underway at the provincial level; he doesn’t believe it will impact the community forest significantly.

He said the people who are concerned the area’s cedar is being harvested too intensively will have a chance to provide input in the public comment and review period for their management plan.

Northern Development Initiative Trust’s (NDIT) Chief Executive Officer Joel McKay said the project is a good one.

“We know that forestry has been hard hit in the valley for a number of years,” said McKay. “This is really about mapping out the future of the community forest and identifying those areas where there may be some timber that can continue to feed it and develop that initial vision and intent around the McBride Community Forest.”

“It made a lot of sense, especially in light of some of the challenges we’re seeing in the Interior forestry sector right now.”

NDIT contributed $71,720 to the project, while MCFC contributed $17,930.