February 29, 2016 - 11:31 AM
PENTICTON - The Village of Keremeos has decided to opt out of a 10 year partnership with the regional district and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band for community forest tenure recently found to be improperly incorporated.
The 2005 agreement involved the formation of the Lower Similkameen Community Forests Limited Partnership, and the Lower Similkameen Community Forests Ltd. Corporation in 2007, but neither entity received written approval from the inspector prior to incorporation.
Keremeos mayor Manfred Bauer says the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen board now has a legal requirement to dissolve the partnership and re-incorporate in order to continue the operation if the board members involved - Areas “B,” “G,” and the Village of Keremeos - have an interest in continuing operations.
“We looked at the financial statements, we looked at the management report regarding future prospects for logging in the area, and the annual costs to keep it going, and there was absolutely no reason to stay in it and take the risk of incurring possible incidental costs like road collapse or slope collapse,” Bauer says.
He says at this point, negotiations with the partners will take place as the corporations are dissolved. If there is any interest in Areas “B” or “G” or the Lower Similkameen Indian Band to re-engage they can then proceed, but the Village of Keremeos will not continue to take part.
The logging operations that took place in the Lower Similkameen by the partnership, under the community forests license, was intended to encourage economic development, but according to Bauer, over the years the venture barely made enough to pay for silviculture, reconnaissance and operating costs.
“We’re now entering a phase where it becomes more difficult to make money, because we are in areas that are very steep, so we’ll have to cable log,” he says, adding the forest lots are further away, which is increasing transportation costs. He says the timber coming up for harvest is low grade, beetle kill that would only qualify as lower value pulp logs.
Bauer says if there had been any positive economic history in the years the venture has operated, there would be some encouragement to continue, but that hasn’t been the case.
On the positive side, the operations have harvested timber lost to the pine beetle, which also helped to control the pest. The logging also aided fire protection, in addition to providing some regional control over its forests.
Bauer says the Lower Similkameen Indian Band may find some benefit to continuing to log the area, as it has adjacent timber licenses in addition to owning harvesting equipment.
Areas “B” and “G” continue to study their options.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016