The need for revenue was among the community’s reasons for acquiring the community forest, and logging was always seen as the primary way to achieve that objective.

The 2014 community forest agreement between Wells-Barkerville Community Forest Ltd and the provincial government specifies an average of 5,000 cubic meters of timber will be logged on the community forest each year. If more is logged, WBCF Ltd can be fined; if less is logged, the provincial government can sell the remaining volume to someone else.

Community meetings in 2015 confirmed revenue as an important objective and decided the best way to minimize expenditures and maximize revenue was to sell the annual allowable cut as standing timber. The opportunity was advertised, proposals were reviewed at a community meeting, and an offer from West Fraser Mills was accepted.

West Fraser took responsibility for the cost of logging and trucking the timber and for meeting all obligations of WBCF’s Community Forest Agreement with the Province, including pre-harvest assessments, developing site plans, obtaining cutting permits and road permits, and ensuring complete reforestation after logging.

The timber was logged in the winter of 2017 – 2018 from eight clear cuts totaling 57 hectares and a “partial harvest” 30.9 hectare block.

In October 2018 West Fraser agreed to purchase the 25,000 cubic meters to be harvested between 2019 and 2024 with an agreement similar to the first. West Fraser is hoping to log about 3,000 cubic meters in late 2020 or early 2021. The timing of the remaining harvest of 22,000 cubic meters is still to be decided.

Determining the Allowable Annual Cut

The Community Forest Agreement required the development of a Management Plan that, when approved by the government, became part of the agreement. As required, the Management Plan included a timber supply analysis, and, as determined by the analysis, an allowable annual cut that had to be approved by government. This is the volume of timber, multiplied by five, that must be harvested during every five year “cut control period”.

The timber supply analysis excluded areas such as caribou habitat, old growth forest, riparian areas, wildlife tree reserve areas, recreation areas and trails from timber harvesting. Together these areas are 25 per cent of the community forest’s 4534 hectares and leave a “timber harvesting land base” of approximately 3430 hectares.

The analysis allocated less than half of the remaining 3430 hectares to an emphasis on timber production and a little more than half to “integrated resource use”. The growth and harvesting of the existing timber volume on these areas of land was projected utilizing computer software to calculate that logging 5114 cubic meters per year is sustainable. The analysis concluded with a proposed allowable annual cut of 5,000 cubic meters, and in July 2014 the provincial government ruled that would be the allowable annual cut.

Reviewing the Allowable Annual Cut

In January the Province advised it will be reviewing the Allowable Annual Cut calculation and will probably want to increase it. The Directors of Wells-Barkerville Community Forest Ltd are committed to working with provincial officials and with the community to ensure all community values are considered in the new determination.

Logging History

Logging in what is now the Wells-Barkerville Community Forest began with the start of gold mining in the area in the 1860. Wood was used for lining mine shafts and tunnels, for constructing sluice boxes and aquaducts, for constructing houses, shops and warehouses, and enormous amounts were use used for heating; wood was the only source of fuel available.

As placer gold mining expanded an extensive system of wood trestles carried water from higher elevation lakes and creeks to “the diggings” and by 1900 Clarke’s sawmill on Jack Of Clubs Lake was meeting the continuing demand for lumber and timbers.

The provincial government began to regulate logging in the 1950s and an example of logging at this time is still evident in the community forest just south of Big Valley Creek, where “cut and leave” logging harvested strips of trees but left strips of forest between the harvested strips.

From the 1960s until the designation of the community forest in 2014 a number of large clearcuts were harvested.

Winter 2017 – 2018

The allowable annual cut for the community forest’s first five years was sold as standing timber to West Fraser and this timber was logged during the winter of 2017 – 2018.

Winter 2020 – 2021

The current plan is to salvage the blowdown that happened last fall. This includes some single trees and a small patch (Blk 13) at the back end of Downey Creek, adjacent to the two blocks that were logged where the new ski trails connects with the road. Then move to the Learning Forest for a partial cut there (Blk 14), then to the 2200 Road to salvage blowdown in the partial cut (Blk 12), as well as strips around Blocks 8 and 10, which were logged in the first cut.
After the blowdown salvage, the piece of Block 9 and all of Block 11, will be cut. These were left last time because the total volume allowed was reached. Estimated total volume if all of this gets completed is approximately 4500m3.

Future Logging

In 2014 a map was produced identifying possible cut blocks for the first 20 years of the community forest, but the cut blocks identified are only possibilities. The areas to be logged in the years to come will be the subject of community discussion before detailed planning begins.

The 2014 map assumes logging will continue at an average of 5,000 cubic meters per year, and it assumed clearcutting will be employed.

However, some or all of the timber could be harvested from “partial harvest” blocks. This would leave more than half the trees standing in the areas logged, but would requires that a greater area be logged to harvest the 5,000 cubic meter per year average.