BC Timber Company’s Dilemma: Harvest Old-Growth Trees or Pay Fees to Leave Them Standing

Harvest old-growth trees or a pay a fee to leave them standing? This is the dilemma that British Columbia’s Downie Timber Company is currently facing, according to The Canadian Press (3-5-23). Downie is owned by Gorman Lumber Ltd. and is trying to avoid logging a section of at-risk old growth forest identified by the provincial government.

Downie’s chief forester, Kerry Rouck, told The Canadian Press that the company began harvesting the two cut blocks north of Revelstoke in the spring of 2021 but halted the operation a few months later, when protesters blocked access to the site, and has not returned. Rouck added that the company values its relationship with local First Nations and the public and does not want to jeopardize its social license by logging areas that overlap with provincially recognized at-risk old growth, as well as caribou habitat.

However, the Crown corporation that manages BC’s public forests has told Downie that it must fulfil its logging contract or pay full stumpage fees for the trees left standing. The Crown noted that the logging agreement was reached prior to the province beginning its old-growth deferral scheme.

Rouck said that according to the terms of the contract, “If there’s volume left in a timber sale block that is not logged or removed from the site, the license holder (Downie) owes the province for that wood, in full value.” Rouck added that alternatives offered by the Crown come with significant costs—either financially or socially. However, he does remain optimistic that Downie and the province can find a way to move forward.

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