Telkwa seeks better forestry information sharing from the Province

Municipalities have been operating in the dark since dissolution of beetle coalition, says Layton

An aerial view shows the kind of devastation the Omineca region experienced with the mountain pine beetle. (Interior News archive photo)

Telkwa’s mayor is spearheading an effort to get forestry information flowing again to northern communities.

Mayor Brad Layton says ever since the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition (OBAC) dissolved in 2017 when provincial funding dried up, municipalities have been operating in the dark.

“Since then, we don’t get any information unless we track somebody down and get them to come and speak to us,” Layton said. “I’m hoping that with my meeting with [Stikine MLA Doug] Donaldson that we can institute something at least for our regional level here. The reason OBAC worked so well was these ADMs (assistant deputy ministers) that would come and to explain where the government was going would have all the mayors from Vavenby through to Smithers in a room so basically one trip covered a big area. Now, if we wanted the same thing, they’d basically have to come to every council.”

The mayor, who also sits as chair of the forestry committee for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), is not trying to re-establish the coalition, he said, but is hoping the Province will be amenable to reporting to the regional district so towns can proactively plan for developments in the sector.

He noted that mayors from Fort St. James through Smithers sit on the RDBN board so information sharing at that level would be efficient and welcomed.

Donaldson told The Interior News that as a former municipal councillor himself, he feels Layton’s pain.

“I can appreciate when people come directly to their local elected officials, they’re expecting them to know what the most current information is and unless that flow is happening from senior bureaucrats in the forest ministry, then the local officials don’t have the information on hand and people tend to fill in with the worst-case scenario,” he said.

Donaldson said he is working on Layton’s request for better information sharing.

“I’m going to look at ways of improving that,” he said. “We have an assistant deputy minister of forests who’s based in Smithers for the whole North, I’ve talked to him about that. He can go, and will be going, to make presentations directly to the regional district.”

Although the province has declared the pine beetle epidemic over, Layton says the aftermath continues.

“They’re still kicking around, but there just isn’t as much feed around for them to be a big problem anymore, but we’re going to see the impact of them for many years to come,” he said.

Furthermore, he noted, spruce beetles are now starting to raise concerns.

The latest report from the provincial government, based on surveys conducted in the fall of 2017, indicated 370,000 hectares of forest in the Omineca region are infested, the largest outbreak of the beetles in recorded history. The report said there has not been an increase in the annual allowable cut, but that harvesters are strategically targeting certain stands of spruce to control the outbreak and recover the economic value of the timber over the long-term.

Donaldson also noted that the Province recently released its new policy for rebuilding the coastal forest industry and a similar review for Interior forestry revitalization will be starting in April.


Village of Telkwa Mayor Brad Layton. (Contributed photo) Village of Telkwa mayor Brad Layton. (Contributed photo)

Just Posted

Trying to open the door on Smithers pot retail

Three Bulkley Valley men look to open Smithers’ first cannabis store on Main Street.

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

Smithers man sentenced to 51 days on nuisance charges

Frederick Patrick was released on bail on outstanding assault charges after breach sentencing

Not guilty pleas in sexual assault/forcible confinement case

Three Hazelton area men will face 8-day trial

One in critical condition after train hits grader near Smithers

The collision occurred at the Lawson Road crossing in the rural community of Quick

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Most Read