The Best Laid Plans...
by S Davies
Managing the land has become more complex over the last decade. There
is increasing demand for areas to be set aside for the future, there has
been the constant demand from logging companies to keep their annual allowable
cut up, and local communities are seeing the trees shipped to the lower
mainland for processing - everyone is concerned over the uncertainty of
what the future may bring or not bring.
Planning processes, promised for decades are now coming to the Islands big
time. In the Memorandum of Understanding signed by
the Islands Community Stability Initiative
(ICSI) and the Ministry of Forests (MoF) agreement was reached to "initiate
an Island-wide strategic and higher level planning process to resolve land
use conflicts." As well," the parties recognize the need to complete
an interim plan for the Tlell and Government Creek watersheds to address
potential local employment and environmental concerns. Through a participatory
process, the MoF will develop interim development plans and present them
within six months (March 23, 1997) to the ICSI or the IFC (Islands Forest
Council) for consensus support prior to sign-off by MoF."
MoF District Manager, Cindy Krishka, said once the the immediate pressure
from industry for cut block approvals was met by identifying where one year's
worth of logging could take place in each of the two watersheds then the
Local Resource Use Plan (LRUP) - a longer-term, more comprehensive planning
process - promised years ago could be completed. These watersheds are included
among the 14 areas identified by the Council of the Haida Nation as "Protected
Late last fall the MoF District Office held a series of meetings consulting
with the public to begin the two watershed-level planning tables - one for
the Tlell, and one for Jiinanga (Government Creek). At the outset, the Ministry
of Forests opened the table to include participation from anyone who wanted
to be part of the planning process and who could commit to staying at the
table through the initial interim development plan phase and into the longer-term
LRUP process that would take about a year.
The Island-wide strategic planning process, called a Land and Resource Management
Plan (LRMP) is also being initiated and is expected to take two to three
years to complete; hopefully before the next Annual Allowable Cut determination.
Tlell Planning Process Moving Forward
The Tlell table has been meeting since November and is made up of individuals,
representatives from non-governmental organizations, industry, union, and
various levels of government including the Ministry of Forests. MoF has
also been running the process with local MoF planning staff, John Andres
and Frank Degagne.
Logging interests in the area include portions within MacMillan Bloedel's
Tree Farm Licence and the MoF administered Timber Supply Area.
In its initial stages, the table has set out the role of the Chairperson
who is to be appointed by the group at the table. A working group is drafting
terms of reference, and an inventory sub-committee has been formed to talk
about what information is available about the watershed and what is needed
in order to make recommendations and decisions.
Parties at the table are:
- Chair/Facilitator (Interim) - Frank DeGagne (MoF);
- Tlell Watershed Society - Diann Richardson, (alt) Terry Husband, Monique
- Northern Trollers Association - Neil Davies, (alt) Colin Davies;
- Gowgaia Institute - John Broadhead, (alt) Marguerite Forest;
- Skidegate Forestry - Gary Shindel, (alt) Lenard Husband;
- MacMillan Bloedel - Stan Holmes, (alt) Don Murray, (alt) John Doucette;
- IWA - Walter Noddin;
- Friends of the Tlell - Liam Davis;
- Steelhead Society - Chris Marrs;
- Ministry of Forests - John Andres;
- Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks - Alvin Cober;
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Allan Cowan;
- Area D representative - Elizabeth Condrotte, (alt) Cindy Magnus;
- Queen Charlotte resident - Patty Daniels;
- Tlell resident - Marty Deacock;
- Tlell resident - Brian McNiff;
- Lawn Hill resident - Gail Hyatt.
At the Jiinanga table
Speaking for his clan, hereditary leader Gaathlaay,Watson Price,
has come to the public meetings saying that there should be no logging in
Jiinanga, the last intact watershed along
Skidegate Inlet. Chief Gaathlaay's concerns were supported by other
Hereditary Chiefs of the Haida Nation, members of his clan, and other members
of the islands community.
This apparent incompatibility with the assumptions made by MOF and ICSI
that the planning table would identify areas to be logged in Jiinanga has
brought into focus once again the problems posed by the long unresolved
land dispute between the Province of BC and the Haida Nation. Discussions
with the Skidegate Band Council, the Hereditary Leaders, ICSI and MOF are
Higher level plans
Local Resource Use Plans and Land and Resource Management Plans are both
considered Higher Level Plans under the Forest Practices Code.They have
been initiated in many areas of the province. How they fit together with
each other and with 5-year development plans is still unclear.
These planning processes now being attempted represent an improvement on
what has passed for land use planning in the past. The sole tool to date
has been the presentation of logging corporation 5-year cutting plans to
the public at Open Houses hosted by the corporations. These have been held
from time to time, in a public place, with maps and binders spread out on
tables, and a company employee on hand to answer questions. Coherent, informed
and comprehensive discussions are not possible in these forums, nor are
adequate responses to the plans possible within the time limits.
The Local Resource Use Plan is a government-controlled watershed-level planning
process with results that are used to provide direction on the resource
management (logging) of the watershed. Having said that, it appears that
an LRUP can be a variety of smaller planning jobs which may include landscape
unit objectives, sensitive area definition and objectives, watershed management
plans, co-ordinated access management plans, integrated development plans,
wilderness management plans, and so-on and so-forth.
What the LRUP process seems to try and do is bring together different interest
groups and sectors at a table to try and work out the differences and come
up with a logging plan for the watershed that everyone can live with. These
are high expectations in these times of greatly reduced intact landscapes,
and increasing governmental pressure to "get the fibre out" because
of the provincial economic troubles.
The options within a LRUP do not include designation of new protected areas.
There are other government processes for that. The Protected Area Strategy
has identified "study areas"on island that will be considered
for protection at the LRMP table. Recommendations will go forward to the
provincial government and the Council of the Haida Nation, but the provincial
designation of new protected areas is not within the mandate of forestry
district managers and requires the approval of the Cabinet and the Lieutenant
Governor in Council. The LRMP machine is coming to town, with orientation
sessions (January 24 in QCC) and press releases from Victoria.
The best laid plans...
The purpose and the hope of all those who participate in land use planning
processes is that resolutions can be found for conflicts. But experience
has shown that the pressures on the tables are considerable.
When you combine the many seriously competing interests the search for compatibilities
is not guaranteed to be successful.
Sometimes you end up with unresolved conflicts which escalate to civil actions,
such as blockades which happened at Lyell Island and Clayquot Sound. At
other times the conflict generates discussion bringing forth initiatives
from the community, such as the ICSI agreements, generating innovative approaches
to try to reach resolution.
Hopefully, after a long and strenuous planning exercise, local representatives
will have reached a consensus in which the concerns and values of people
who live here are incorporated to protect the biological, cultural, spiritual
and economic sustainability of the lands of Haida Gwaii.