Community Forests in British Columbia can be described as any forestry operation managed by a local government, community group, or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community.
Community Forest harvesting operations can provide employment, a source of revenue, support for local priorities and new options in recreation, wildlife and watershed management.
The Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society (LNTCFS) is such a group. Incorporated on Apr. 23, 2004, the Society encompasses the five communities of McLure, Louis Creek, Barriere, Chu Chua and Little Fort.
The purposes of the Society are: to create a long term sustainable plan for forest resources that benefits the people of the Lower North Thompson; to preserve ownership of local natural resources for the people of our area, promoting self determination for the people of this valley; to create sustainable employment, new business opportunities and investment; to provide a new opportunity for community management of local crown land; to provide long term opportunities for achieving a range of community objectives (including employment, skills training, forest related education, and social development and economic benefits); and to meet objectives of the government in respect of environmental stewardship including the management of timber, cultural and heritage resources.
Since 2004 the LNTCFS board of directors have been working diligently to adhere to the purposes of the Society, but also to ensure the longevity of LNTCFS.
“The directors have been very frugal with our [LNTCFS] funds to make sure the bills are paid and there is money in the bank,” said LNTCFS chairperson Harley Wright, “The forest industry has had mills shutting down and going bankrupt, but we have been able to achieve success in the industry by being frugal.”
Wright notes that there are a number of Community Forest groups that have run into trouble, especially ones that have rushed to disperse moneys to their communities.
“We’ve been very careful,” said the chairperson, “We want to be here for the long term, and we have planned accordingly.”
Wright says the Society has been very active the past year not just harvesting timber but also sponsoring a Job Creation Partnership program through the Ministry of Housing and Social Development. The program provides training and work experience for EI funded participants. Susan Bondar was hired by the LNTCFS to act as supervisor for this project, which ran from June to November of this year.
“Susan Bondar has been a major factor in the Job Creation Program,” said Wright, “They have put in a number of backcountry trails, thanks to assistance from Connie Falk, and we look forward to continuing on with the program next year.”
Wright says the LNTCFS is now in a financial position to be able to help other community organizations.
“Our directors have made the decision to donate $5,000 to Barriere Secondary School to be given out in five $1,000 bursaries to graduating students,” said Wright, “We are also going to offer $5,000 that will be available to a community non-profit society, or divided between a number of such groups, depending on the applications we receive.”
Wright says the deadline for application will be Dec. 31, 2011, and that application forms and guidelines will be available at the LNTCFS office in Barriere at 4648 Barriere Town Road, Tuesday to Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All applications will be reviewed by the LNTCFS board members who will award the money to successful applicants. You can also call 250-672-1941 for more information.
“It’s not a lot of money,” said Wright, “But it is a start, and by being frugal with our finances we hope to be able to offer this community support for a number of years.”
“I really want to thank all of the directors for their hard work to make this Community Forest a success; Ron Hindson, Gai Conan, Bert Rilcoe, Greg Fennell, Hugh Fraser, Wayne Van Sickle, Martin Matthews, Ted Brown, Duncan McGrath, Duane Eustache, executive directors Brian Bondar and Al Bush, and our operations manager Mike Francis and executive assistant Christie Smith.”
Wright noted that a motion will be considered at the Society’s AGM to rescind the two LNTCFS two executive director positions, and a special resolution will be considered to add one director to the board, bringing the total to 12.
The LNTCFS will be holding their annual general meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m., at the North Thompson Volunteer and Information Centre in the Ridge. Anyone interested in standing as a director of the society is asked to contact the LNTCFS office before Oct. 28.