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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 Areas."
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:
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 continuing.
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.

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