The District of Vanderhoof now has it’s own community forest.
“This is huge for the community of Vanderhoof. We are a forestry community,” says Mayor Gerry Thiessen. “We have the world’s largest sawmill in our community and we also have several other mills that are very technologically advanced.”
Thiessen says the forest will add economic stability and jobs to the community.
“For us to be involved, to see jobs staying in our community, to also receive some non-tax revenue and then, probably most importantly, to be involved in the forest around our community, is great.”
The size and scope of the project will have a big impact, Thiessen says.
“This community forest is 5 years, 80,000 cubic metres a year and that’s significant. That will allow us to go through [the 5 years] and reinventory at that time and we’ll understand what our cut will be through the midterm. We’re really excited about it – it’s a really good day for Vanderhoof.”
The initial agreement will last for 25 years and is replaceable for a further 25 after that. The forest covers 23,181 hectares, including the Waterlily Lake Ski and Hiking Trails and the Omineca Trail.
There are already plans in the works to invigorate a demonstration forest to provide educational opportunities for local schools and industry partners.
The District will be managing the forest with a local community partner that many in Vanderhoof will be familiar with.
“L&M Lumber – they’re a long time family business in our community. They have done some of the most energy, environmentally sensitive projects that have ever been done in North America in sawmills. So it’s just a win-win situation for the community of Vanderhoof.”
Thiessen says support from local First Nations was crucial to securing the agreement.
“Our community forest is in the traditional territory of two First Nations. The Saik’uz First Nation to the South of us and also the Nak’azdli First Nation north, up towards Fort St. James and they have both been very supportive and we want to recognize their support.”
Thiessen says he’s also grateful to Forests Minister Steve Thomson for helping make the forest a reality.
The Vanderhoof Community Forest is located about 15km north of Vanderhoof.