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Community forest plan seems to be dying

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The Whistler Community Forest proposal may be dead in the water if the Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee decides that the new definition for a community forest is so watered down that it will be ineffective.

"It seems to be dying, but it’s not dead yet," says Councillor Ken Melamed. "The Wildlands Committee will look at it at the next meeting to see if it has any value, but the new definition – the rules and what we can hope to achieve by it – may have been reduced so much in the rewrite that it may not be valuable for us."

When the province announced the community forest pilot agreement program in 1998, Whistler was one of the first communities to submit an application. Whistler’s proposal, however, went beyond the scope of what the Forest Ministry was looking for.

Of the 27 different First Nations, corporations and co-operatives to submit applications, only 10 have been approved. They are Likely, McBride, Nuxalk and Esketemc First Nations, the Harrop-Proctor Watershed Protection Society (Nelson), the District of Fort St. James, the Village of Burns Lake, The Bamfield/Huu-ay-aht Community Forest Society, the Islands Community Stability Initiative and the North Island Woodlot (Comox Valley).

While Whistler’s application wasn’t officially rejected, they were given another application with limitations spelled out and invited to resubmit it the Ministry of Forests.

The Whistler Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee will review the plan at their monthly meeting on Feb. 20.

If the committee comes to the conclusion that the current definition of a community forest doesn’t serve Whistler’s needs, they may decide to endorse an application for a Special Resource Management Designation for the area, which will be decided on as part of the Sea to Sky Land Resource Management Plan.

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