The province’s chief forester has announced the new allowable annual cut (AAC) for West Fraser’s Tree Farm Licence 52 near Quesnel is 592,500 cubic metres.
This new cut level, which came into effect Monday (June 17), is a 36-per-cent reduction from the current cut of 918,014 cubic metres set in 2011, and reflects the end of mountain pine beetle salvage operations in the area, according to a news release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The annual average harvest level between 2010 and 2018 was 589,000 cubic metres per year.
The new cut level includes a partition that attributes 22,500 cubic metres of the AAC to deciduous trees in the tree farm licence (TFL). The deciduous timber will provide logs for West Fraser’s two pulp mills in Quesnel.
“After reviewing all relevant factors on timber and non-timber resources, and taking into consideration First Nations’ interests in TFL 52, I am satisfied that the new AAC will ease the transition to a lower mid-term timber supply and allow more time for local and regional economies to adjust,” chief forester Diane Nicholls said in the release.
The new AAC will remain in effect until a new AAC is determined, which must take place within 10 years of this determination, unless significant new information becomes available, according to the report from Nicholls.
TFL 52 has an area of 261,468 hectares, of which 174,884 hectares are available for timber harvesting. TFL 52 is comprised of two blocks. The first, Block A, is east of Quesnel. The second, Block B, is northwest of Quesnel along the Fraser River.
The TFL includes the communities of Wells and Barkerville, and it overlaps with the Traditional Territories of the Lhtako Dene, Xats’ull, Nazko, ?Esdilagh, T’exelc and Lheidli T’enneh First Nations.
The dominant tree species are interior spruce, lodgepole pine and Douglas fir.
West Fraser Mills Ltd. has held the licence for TFL 52 since 1991, according to the report from Nicholls.
Later on Monday, West Fraser announced it will be permanently closing its Chasm lumber mill and eliminating the third shift from its 100 Mile House lumber mill during the third quarter of 2019.
“This decision is not a reflection of the contributions of our employees, contractors and the communities where these mills operate,” president and Chief Operating Officer Ray Ferris said in a press release. “It is the result of well-documented timber supply constraints owing to B.C.’s devastating Mountain Pine Beetle infestation, recent record wildfires, price declines in lumber markets and high saw log costs. As a result of reduced harvesting levels set by the Chief Forester of B.C., there is insufficient timber supply to support the current lumber production capacity of the lumber mills in these locations. Today’s decision better aligns West Fraser’s production in the region with current timber supply.”
These production curtailments and closures are expected to impact approximately 176 employees at Chasm and approximately 34 employees at 100 Mile House. Lumber production is anticipated to be permanently reduced by approximately 314 million board feet as a result of this announcement. In 2018 and 2019, West Fraser will implement total temporary and permanent capacity curtailments of approximately 125 million and 614 million board feet, respectively, according to the release.