By 2013, lodgepole pine may be extinct in B.C. due to mountain pine beetle infestations. A Mount Currie company has taken steps to insure that doesn’t happen.
Creekside Resources, the corporate arm of the Lil’wat Nation, submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Forests immediately on the heels of Ministry of Industry David Emerson’s announcement of the federal government’s commitment to eradicate the beetles.
"There was no structure in place when Emerson announced the available money," says Justine Wilson, CEO of Creekside Resources. "We said let’s put something together. We didn’t want (a proposal) that just spoke to the safety aspects of eradicating the pine beetle, we wanted something that could spark industry."
Creekside Resources’ proposal calls for the development and implementation of a two-phase pine beetle management plan. To facilitate this, the proposal calls for an allocation of $760,000 of the approximate $100 million the province is expecting in federal transfer funds to deal with this problem.
According to the plan, $125,000 would initially be used to develop a well-co-ordinated mountain pine beetle strategy for the corridor; a concept which is backed by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District as well as local governments in Whistler and Pemberton.
The second phase pf the three-year project would see the implementation of a stem, buck and burn program to reduce the immediate fire hazard and visual impact of the pine beetle damage. Red trees along the Sea to Sky corridor are evidence of the damage the mountain pine beetle has done to the area’s stands of lodgepole pine. Areas along Lillooet Lake also show pine beetle damage.
The most ambitious aspect of this second phase would be the establishment of a value-added salvage operation. Creekside Resources proposes to produce veneer using a portable veneer mill that can be set up and operated at logging sites.
"A whole new industry could be brought here, " says Wilson." If we start small, we can grow. Pemberton can’t continue to just be a bedroom community."
Wilson believes that the establishment of community forests in both Whistler and Pemberton could further strengthen links.
"Creekside has specialized in leveraging aboriginal rights and title. We build certainty," says Wilson. "I think the proposal represents a good opportunity for all of us."
The Ministry of Forests has produced a six-year action plan detailing its commitment to stopping the pine beetle destruction. The Creekside Resources proposal is congruent with the aims of the province as it addresses many of the key points of the provincial plan, including ensuring long-term economic sustainability and the recovery of the greatest value for dead timber.
While Creekside has not yet heard anything back from the province, Wilson will be waiting until September to pursue the matter.
"As you know Rich Coleman (Forests and Range Minister) is just getting situated, so he needs to come up for air," says Wilson.