There was an air of anticipation at Town Hall Saturday, March 12, as the crowd waited on the arrival of MLA Blair Lekstrom and Forests Minister Michael de Jong.
Mayor Iles, Councillors, members of the Community Forests Committee, horse loggers, Chamber of Commerce and Emergency Services members were on hand to greet the Minister.
A brief discussion about the possibility of Tumbler Ridge applying for a Community Salvage licence took place prior to the Minster?s arrival. Danny Way, District Manager with the Ministry of Forests encouraged the town to consider applying for the salvage license which could help with the pine beetle problem as well mitigating forest fires.
Greg Lay, a Forest Resources Instructor with Northern Lights College pointed out that, ?Small communities need access to a timber supply to sustain the community over the long term.?
MLA Blair Lekstrom and Minister de Jong arrived, and in a 15 minute presentation, they announced a community forest opportunity for the District of Tumbler Ridge, bringing control of forest resources into the community. Harry Prosser was singled out as having had a huge impact on this decision.
?Today?s announcement gives this region a new opportunity for economic diversification,? said Lekstrom. ?This creates new employment, skills training and revenues that can be funnelled back into the community to meet its needs and goals.?
In their news release the Ministry of Forests says, ?The District of Tumbler Ridge has been invited to apply for a probationary community forest licence, providing about 20.000 cubic metres of timber annually. Before a formal invitation can be extended, the Ministry of Forests must consult with potentially affected First Nations.
Community forest tenures are area-based, giving the agreement-holders exclusive stewardship of an area of forest land over the term of the agreement. The probationary agreements are initially for five years, at which time they may be extended for another five years or replaced with a long-term agreement of 25-99 years.?
?It will be a great day when that first harvest takes place,? said Minister de Jong.