Forest management plan enters consultation period

Sam Odrowski

People with cabins or outposts in and around the Crossroute-Sapawe Forest are encouraged to look through the 2020-2030 Forest Management Plan to see if any areas designated for harvest are near their property.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) kicked off a 60-day consultation period last Wednesday with an open house at the local Legion to share information about the 10-year plan for the forest.

“The reason we hold the open house is just to provide the public with an opportunity to review the plan, review where allocations are going to be posed for the next ten years, and get there inputs on the allocations,” said Phillip Cooze of the MNRF.

The plan itself is meant to determine what areas of the forest can be harvested and what areas are proposed for renewal.

The public can provide their feedback by reviewing the Environmental Registry Notice #013-4241 online and posting in the comments

The comment period closes on Oct. 28, 2019.

“The public can comment during that 60 day period then we take those comments and we fix the plan based on what the comments may be, and change the plan if need be and then once that’s been done it goes for final approval,” Cooze explained.

Some stakeholders at the open house have expressed to the MNRF that they can harvest near their outposts or cabins during certain times of the year, but try to mitigate any overlap during the times that they’re in use.

As well, stakeholders who want viewscapes, and would like to avoid areas near their property being clear cut have voiced their concerns and Cooze said the MNRF will work with the various forestry companies involved to find solutions.

The primary wood harvesters in the Crossroute-Sapawe forest is Resolute Forest Products while Rainy Lake Tribal Resources Management, Norbord, Manitou Lumber, and Nickel Lake Lumber also harvest wood fibre independently.

Meanwhile, the contents of the new forest management plan is similar to the last one, but with different designated areas to harvest.

“Going forward we look at the past where we’ve gone, we look where we’re going, and make sure we’re following the same trajectory of plans . . . going forward,” Cooze noted.

He said to determine which areas might be harvested, the MNRF breaks up the forests by tree species such as pure jack pine, pure spruce, pure poplar, mixed wood, coniferous trees, and hard wood.

The age of the forest and conservation of it also plays a big role in determining where companies can cut.

A common theme both locally and across the province for forestry management plans is a wood supply gap, according to Cooze.

He said there’s a lot of old growth of trees and not many young ones growing which can pose a challenge.

“The stuff that we’ve harvested and regenerated is still coming online, so we have a decline in volume because of that,” Cooze explained.

“But that’s been known for two or three plans now and we’re still coming into the bottom end of that supply gap right now.

“That’s probably the biggest challenge that we’ve had coming from the old plan is predicting lower volumes coming off the forest because of the age class that we have on the forest,” he added.

The forest management plan is nearly complete and the consultations being held is meant to fine tune or adjust any areas where stakeholders have concerns.

“Basically this is an opportunity for the public to see the draft plan as it is right now,” Cooze said.

“There is still to be some changes between now and the final plan approval but pretty much what we have is what’s going forward.”

Anyone who has concerns about the forestry plan can visit the MNRF’s office in town and see the draft plan as well as speak with government officials about their concerns.

If the MNRF stays on track with the implementation of the 2020-2030 Forest Management Plan for the Crossroute-Sapawe Forest, it will go into effect on April 1, 2020, according to Cooze.