To move ahead the Community Forest Agreement (CFA) process, the City of Quesnel will be facilitating a workshop this April with the key players.
At the Feb. 18 council meeting, Mayor Bob Simpson presented a report explaining that to advance an expression of interest for a CFA, the City needs to meet with the other parties that have been invited by the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) to participate, including the First Nation governments of Nazko, Lhoosk’uz (Kluskus), Lhtako Dene and ?Esdilagh, as well as the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and the District of Wells.
This meeting will determine how the total 77,000 cubic metres available for CFA volume will be allocated, discuss the proposed area of a CFA and clarify the steps, timelines and resources needed to acquire a CFA. As well, the meeting will further develop goals, objectives and governance options for the CFA, discuss connections to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), learn from B.C. Community Forest Association (BCCFA) staff and outline the timelines and next steps.
Council approved that the City of Quesnel obtain the support of Mike Simpson, a registered professional forester from the Fraser Basin Council (FBC), to organize and facilitate a workshop in April 2020 with all the key players, as well as obtain the services of Susan Mulkey from BCCFA to assist with the CFA application.
“The two resources that are being made available to us are the best two we can get,” said Simpson. “Mike Simpson from Fraser Basin Council, a registered professional forester, a very well-respected facilitator and moderator and somebody who’s well-versed in both First Nations woodland licences and community forests around the province. And Susan Mulkey from the Community Forests Association, who is probably the biggest brain out there with respect to the options and alternates we’ve got for structuring the community forest from a corporate perspective, how communities, municipalities, First Nations have worked together and structured that.”
The cost to hire FBC will be $5,000, while the cost to hire BCCFA will be approximately $3,000, and the City’s Forestry Initiatives staff will be tracking full cost accounting for all City contributions, including a charge-out rate for the Forestry Initiatives manager and Forestry Initiatives co-ordinator’s time, with a view towards recouping those costs.
Simpson says the City has $5,000 from a Union of British Columbia Municipalities grant and has $5,000 in the budget for working with First Nations, so it would more than cover the cost of the workshop.
The City is also going to ask the CRD to begin a cost-sharing process for this workshop.
Simpson says as the CFA for the Quesnel Timber Supply Area moves forward, they still need clarity around the land base and who the players should be.
He says it looks like the District of Wells may get a bump up on its community forest instead of participating in a CFA in Quesnel.
“I’ve spoken with the mayor of Wells and with our district manager for FLNRORD, and that’s the path we’re most likely going on,” he said. “The letter went out to kind of anybody and everybody who had their hand up around a community forest allocation, and technically, at this juncture, that’s all it is, 77,000 cubic metres towards a community forest allocation. That allocation could be everybody at that table gets a piece of the piece and a small postage stamp, so if we don’t actually get a collective agreement, one of the options for FLNRORD is to then piecemeal it out, and with the First Nations, they’re now getting woodland licences, so they could potentially add it to the woodland licence.”
As well, Simpson says the CRD board did ratify at its Feb. 13 meeting that it wants to be included in the discussions.
At the Feb. 18 meeting, council also agreed to write to FLNRORD saying the City is interested in being a player in the CFA.
“I think this council needs to take into consideration we have been trying to get a community forest since about 1996, so we’ve always had our hand up, and council actually drove this idea of an interface community forest and a partnership, particularly with Lhtako,” said Simpson.