Vanderhoof gets community forest

Vanderhoof residents receive community forest for economic, employment, and increased local forest stewardship opportunities

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad (third from right) announced the provincially-issued Vanderhoof Community Forest with Alan Fitzpatrick (from left) and Dave Watt from L&M Lumber Ltd

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad (third from right) announced the provincially-issued Vanderhoof Community Forest with Alan Fitzpatrick (from left) and Dave Watt from L&M Lumber Ltd

VANDERHOOF – Residents of Vanderhoof are positioned to benefit from added economic stability, employment opportunities and increased local forest stewardship through the creation of the Vanderhoof Community Forest.

John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes, made the announcement as the Vanderhoof Trade Show kicked off in the district arena on May 13.

“The Vanderhoof Community Forest is another example of just what can be accomplished when we all set our sights on a common goal,” Rustad said. “By partnering with a local lumber company,Vanderhoof has been able to secure this community forest.

“It’s great news for the local economy.”

Located approximately 15 kilometres north of Vanderhoof, the Vanderhoof community forest agreement covers 23,181 hectares. The agreement has an initial term of 25 years and is replaceable for another 25-year term after 10 years.

In addition to timber harvesting, other uses of the community forest will include outdoor recreation with the Waterlily Lake cross-country ski and hiking trails, and the Omineca Trail, which is part of an ancient Carrier First Nation trail route.

To support the agreement and build a strong and diverse local forest sector, Vanderhoof Community Forest has partnered with local forest company L&M Lumber Ltd. (Nechako Lumber Co. Ltd.). Additionally, plans are in the works to invigorate a demonstration forest with local education partners such as Nechako Valley Secondary school and the Council of Forest Industries.

For Mayor Gerry Thiessen, it’s an amazing day, he said. “We have been working on realizing a community forest since I was first elected mayor some eight years ago,” Thiessen said. “We are incredibly excited about the opportunities that a community forest brings.

“The idea of a community forest for Vanderhoof developed from a desire for long-term employment opportunities, increased self-reliance, and the kind of local level decision making that leads to sustainable forest management.

“We will have a much larger role to play within our area’s major industry, forestry.”

Community forest agreements are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests. A community forest is managed by a local government, community group or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community.