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Management of private forest lands the topic of latest review

People can provide input until July 9 on a program to help ensure the sustainable management of private forests in the West Kootenay. — Photo courtesy Nelson Cycling Club Facebook

With the city surrounded by close to 90 per cent private forest land, and the recent issue of logging around Cottonwood Lake, the idea of how to regulate those tracts of land is imperative.

For years wildfire mitigation and forest fuel treatment have been complicated around Nelson due to the large amount of private forest land bordering it.

There is no legislation to compel private forest land owners to do anything on their land that is not in their own self interest, or will turn them a profit.

Until now.

People can provide input until July 9 on a program to help ensure the sustainable management of private forests in the West Kootenay — locally and around Cottonwood Lake — as well as across the province.

In mid April the City of Nelson attempted to push for a stronger voice on how private forests lands were managed, passing a resolution for consideration at the next Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) convention that addresses forest harvesting for commercial purposes on private lands.

The amended Private Forest Lands Resolution for submission to AKBLG noted there was a responsibility on local governments to “support the value of their communities which include sight lines, municipal infrastructure, slopestability of land and watersheds.”

It also called on the province to implement regulations and standards that are equivalent to Crown forest land regulations, as well as standards that address forest harvesting for commercial purposes on private lands.

The resolution asked the province to grant local governments the authority to require private landowners to undertake annual consultations with local governments to provide information “regarding long-term disposition or development intentions for land adjacent to municipal boundaries if intended for commercial purposes.”

Sixteen years ago the first seeds of the Private Forest Land Program were sown and grew into the Private Managed Forest Land Act.

However, the act has been a work in progress and has failed in many instances in preventing destruction on valued recreational and ecological areas, as well as being toothless to deal with wildfire interface fuel mitigation.

As a result, the province has endeavoured to review the act to “encourage private landowners to manage their lands for long-term forest production and encourage sustainable forest management practices, including protecting key public environmental values.”

Although the Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development ministry announced it will meet directly with and accept written submissions from landowners, local government, First Nations and organizations and community groups that are directly impacted by activities on private managed forest land, no Nelson gathering has been scheduled.

Of the 4.6 million hectares of private land in B.C., about 818,000 hectares — primarily located on southern Vancouver Island and the Kootenays — are managed as part of the Private Managed Forest Land Program and regulated under the Private Managed Forest Land Actand regulations. 

Private forest owners participating in the private managed forest land program must comply with the Private Managed Forest Land Act and regulations, including protecting key environmental values. 

A summary report will be ready in fall 2019.

Public input on the program is welcome until 4 p.m. on July 9. Feedback forms and more information are available on the government website

Further resources

Private Managed Forest Land Act

BC Assessment Authority Managed Forest Land Class

Managed Forest Council

Private Forest Landowners Association