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Frank Talk: Dale Lore shares his opinion about volume, area, tenure, community values, cut control, and working with government.

Following the two days of the ICSI Community Forest Symposium I sat down for a couple of hours with Dale Lore in Port Clements. This interview is a distillation of that conversation.
- Interview conducted by Simon Davies.

SpruceRoots - Are ICSI's goals supported by the local Ministry of Forests office?
Dale Lore - Yes, and I have good reason to believe that. I have talked to people and I have connections in Victoria. I have feedback telling me that Krishka is exceeding Brash - the previous District Manager - in support of us. I am told that she is the strongest advocate that they have ever seen for local control.

SR - Is that support for community control of forest land for a certain volume of timber?
DL - Until this past weekend - of the ICSI Community Forest Symposium - we were a shoe-in for a pilot project. And we can have an area-base with a pilot project.

[In conjunction with the Jobs and Timber Accord, the government is developing policies that will see the implementation of three Community Forest Pilot Projects. Each Pilot may be somewhat different in design, but it is likely that at least one will be area-based. There are several locations in the province that have expressed an interest in having a Pilot Project.]

SR - Why was that news not expressed by ICSI this past weekend at the Symposium?
DL - Because I don't know it officially and if I express it someone is going to trace my source. This is one of the horrible things about inside information, you have to be really careful about who knows. You have to show enough credibility so people can read between the lines.

SR - The choice before the public seems to be a choice for either area or volume. With an area-base the assumption is that it will be managed in a sustainable manner, and with a volume-based tenure the assumption is that it will be business as usual. What I hear from you is that the choices from the public point of view are quite different from the assumptions that ICSI is working from.
DL - Yes, but the public watched us go around to all the communities. They watched every community say they wanted area-based and only one community said "accept the volume," and that was Sandspit. Every person that was at the Symposium last weekend knows how we work; they know that area-based is what ICSI wants. What we need is enough leeway to bring that area-base home; enough trust and enough faith that we can do it, to give us a bit of free-hand to accomplish it.

There are several different ways to accomplish it, a pilot project is one. I am convinced that given two years I can swing a chart area with volume over to area-based. I have so much faith in that that I would quit my job at MB if I couldn't do it. I have that much faith in my drive and motivation and the people I am working with. But I don't know how to get the message out; that is the problem.

SR - There may be two problems. One is how do you guarantee, that in fact, we can get area by attempting the 'volume to area' scenario? The pilot project may be a safer bet from the public's point of view. ICSI would go the pilot project and fight for it to be area-based. The scenario of volume to area is where the unknowns are. So far there has been little explanation of what is going on in the back rooms. ICSI can't be up front because, as you said, you can't say what is going on.
DL - Here is another route, and this is the route I prefer to take. Take the volume-based chart area and then treat it as area-based. Set your own cut control and wait, and when somebody objects, force them to come on to the land. If we have to do it without the pilot project then it is with civil disobedience. If you are going to practice civil disobedience, then the win-win in practicing civil disobedience is to impact nobody but you and your opponent. Don't impact the major licensees, don't impact anybody else on the Island. Practice what you preach on the land, then force the government to come on to the land and arrest you. I don't see how they can win and I would be willing take my chance in going to jail, particularly if I had a Haida or two with me, because I don't think we would be in jail. I think that is the quickest and easiest way to get cut control, because the pilot project may give us area-base but I'll bet you it doesn't give us cut control.

SR - You believe that the route ICSI is taking - take the volume and convert to area - is supported by people on the Islands.
DL - I think it is supported by over 50 percent. My problem is that I am reluctant to go with a 50/50 split, I want a minimum of 85 percent and I'll kiss off the 7.5 percent on either side.

SR - How is ICSI measuring community values and the desires of people? Some people think there is a difference between the values that ICSI started with and where we are now, because there are a lot of discussions going on that are not public.
DL - The thing that I don't understand is how people can think that. Because we are such a small Island, we are all neighbours and over the years we know each other - I mean we can give each other's speeches, friends and enemies alike. With the public process that we went through, I hoped and had assumed that there was enough faith in the integrity of ICSI to accomplish the message we have heard loud and clear, which is: people want area-based.

The public has the complete 100 percent right to tell their community leaders what they want. The public has no right, in my mind, to tell the leaders how to accomplish it.

SR - So you feel, as leader or chair of ICSI, you should have clear title to accomplish those goals in which ever way you decide?
DL - Yes, because otherwise no member of ICSI can use very much initiative to accomplish the goal. Because you know as well as I do, with any goal in life, that as soon as you set the goal you find an obstacle and you have to go around it; and many of those obstacles are not the ones you anticipated. You can't go back to the public every time you get into a bit of trouble and say help us out we've got a problem.

SR - Perhaps it is about degrees, how far you go before you check back in with the public.

Working together, small business, learning, and area

SR - What is the most important issue facing ICSI?
DL - The most important issue is: how much are the Island people willing to work to make this happen? The number of people working in the forest that are helping the ICSI process along is nowhere near as high as it should be. There should be an awful lot more volunteerism from the people working at the lower and middle management levels in the companies.

There should be something visibly being put back into the communities from the Small Business people, because it is absolutely impossible - from my own view point - for me to take any chances going out on a limb, when I know full well their past record.

SR - Is that attitude toward the Small Business operators one that ICSI shares?
DL - No, that is mine. But my view is that they are the most serious obstacle that we passed to date, it was a real struggle. The problem is that those people fought 10 years ago trying to change things; they didn't get it accomplished and personally I think it drives them absolutely crazy that they didn't succeed and somebody else is.

SR - The ICSI Community Forest Symposium was a very interesting two days.
DL - I thought it was widely successful.

SR - I was wondering what you learned during those two days?
DL - The biggest thing that I learned was how much we need to learn, and how little the outside world understands how far we have come. We are half way, but, it has taken us three and a half years. We started from a stand still with no momentum and a huge obstacle in front of us. The obstacle is still there but it is moving about the same rate we are, it is still slipping a bit, but we are at the half way point.

SR - Do you think this process is going to take another 3 years?
DL - No, shorter. I figure we are 2 years from the end of it.

SR - What is the end?
DL - The end of the process is when the Island has put together their Management Working Plan, it has been accepted and the layout for logging is starting.

SR - Is that for area or volume?
DL - To me that is area.

SR - I understand there is negotiation with MoF deciding on areas of land for an amount of timber volume. What is the ICSI process in dealing with that? I know there is public concern about where those areas are, and how they fit into the understanding of what the public wants for a Community Forest. Are you going to negotiate and define those areas with MoF and then bring those areas to the public? And at that point, what are the options for the public? Or is it a take it or leave it package?
DL - What I envision is that we will do the damnedest we can do, to get the best deal we can get, then we will bring it back to the public, explain what we have got, and ask the public if they will accept it.

SR - What if the public tells you the areas ICSI worked out need some more discussion?
DL - The areas to me are not critical.

SR - So ICSI is offering a promise to turn a volume-based license into an area-based license and to manage it in a sustainable manner and to deal with the overcut.
DL - Yes.

Conversion clause, infrastructure, local mills, and time line

SR - You have said that there is a promise that ICSI will turn a volume-based tenure over to area, you won't accept the license from government unless there is assurance that it is convertible. What if you can't get assurance.
DL - To tell you the truth, that would make me a lot more comfortable to take other courses of action because of the injustice of it.

SR - You are confident that there is a convertible clause coming with the package?
DL - Yes, I am not only convinced that there is a convertible clause I am convinced that I can talk government into letting us write it.

SR - What assurance can you give the public that this will work? You are asking the public to rely on your word.
DL - It is the best thing I can give you. In three and a half years can you point to ICSI ever misleading or lying to you or anyone else in the public in any way? Have you ever seen us make any kind of a falsehood, even not tell the whole truth? Have you ever seen anything on this Island as up front as this particular group of individuals have been? That is the strongest single statement I can give to you.

I believe a man's history makes his word strong. And I agree 'the word' in this day and age doesn't mean too much - particularly from a politician - people aren't used to accepting that. But I would ask people to check it out; the history is there, the documentation is there, there is a very complete record. If anybody can point out where we have been sleazy or slippery or lied - we haven't lied to government, we haven't lied to industry, we haven't lied to anybody - we have been right up front from the word go. That is one of the reasons we are where we are. Because we were so honest, neither government nor industry believed a word we said.

SR - It sounds like the Islands are going to get wood in one form or another, if the Islands does accept the wood, what is the next step for ICSI?
DL - In my view: put together a schedule to ramp-up to 100 percent manufacturing of value-added products on the Islands.

SR - In the interim what is going to happen?
DL - What the local mills want to cut, they can, what they don't wish to cut, I would strongly suspect we will sell on the open market. We will go through a log yard, and what doesn't get bought we will ship. We will take all of our low quality wood, our pulp and any species that we don't want to cut here, and I would hope we would take advantage of the addendum we have from the major licensees, and we will trade the wood we don't want for the wood we want, dollar for dollar.

SR - On-island there have been ecosystem-based planning workshops and there is an on-going discussion about this style of forestry and wood certification, is there a fit with ICSI?
DL - George White (presenter at the ICSI Symposium) enlightened me with something I didn't believe. I did not believe in certification. My gut feeling is still, although they are moving in that direction I would bet you anything that a portion of their wood is not being purchased from a certified forest. With the ecosystem-based planning, I am not sure it will meet the initial need of the Haida community, it may in the long run, say five-years down the road. I talked at length with Cheri Burda (presenter at the ICSI Symposium) and my gut feeling is, you may be able to maintain your lifestyle with it, but you are not going to build the infrastructure, and you're not going to repair the fifty years of neglect on this Island. First we have to get the Islands to where we want it, then we may be able to do that.

Economically there is a fair chunk of infrastructure that needs to be built before we are going to be where the Islands should be. If we want to take advantage of tourism we need accommodation, real accommodation, right now we couldn't host a decent sized conference, because we don't have the beds, we don't have the restaurants, we don't have the transportation system. There are so many things that need to be built that require money.

SR - Is it ICSI's role to decide what the Islands need?
DL -That is a job of the communities and the people of the Islands. I am thinking in five to ten years you can set up your industrial infrastructure and your recreation to get in a position to keep your young people here.

SR - If you are setting up that infrastructure, relying on a cut that is 2.2 times the sustained yield, you are setting up an infrastructure that may not be supportable over the long run.
DL - Now you're assuming we are not taking care of business in another area that we have promised, and that's the Annual Allowable Cut. We are doing our best to take care of that. Assuming that within a reasonable time government hasn't addressed the issue we will have enough public support to do something about it.

SR - George White said that all of their wood products are not certified. But the certified products they have are tracked through a chain of custody, from forest through manufacturers to the shelves in their stores. He said of the 21,000 wood products they stock, they have 200 made from certified wood right now with a commitment to increase that number.
DL - I see an amazing chance for us. I strongly suspect in a community forest operated correctly to ensure the proper legacy, we could get into anything right down to single tree selection. In the community forest I am thinking of, we may end up with two phases: a Community Forest located near the community would be certified, and a chunk of the Community Forest on the west coast would be for conventional industrial forestry.

SR - Out of sight out of mind?
DL - Basically, it would be to bring the economic benefits in during the early stages. I can see the potential there, I am quite excited about that.

SR - People are wondering about the relationship between ICSI, MoF and the 14 Haida Protected Areas. There is the suggestion that there will be no Community Forest unless ICSI delivers Tlell, Jiinanga (Government Creek) and parts of Duu Guusd back to the forest land base.
DL - What I suspect MoF will do is that they will tie the community forest, and the license that they are developing for the Haida, to the release of those protected areas into the working forest, with the exception of Yakoun Lake and the anchorages. Jiinanga is one area I am going to sit back and watch to see how the government proceeds. ICSI gave it their best shot, I put myself on the line, I did the job I was asked to do and it hurt.

I think there is something that you would do well to understand. If the protected areas don't fall into the working forest then the further approximately 50,000 cubic metres of wood for the Community Forest will just stay in limbo.

MoF is looking at the Memorandum of Understanding and saying you said this, and we said this, and if you don't deliver, we don't deliver. And all you have to do to figure out what ICSI's commitments are is to look at the MOU and the Consensus Document. We are really open and honest in those documents. I believe it is just as much of a sin to turn around and lie to your enemy, and sometimes it hurts you worse to lie to your enemy than to lie to your friends.

SR - Is a Community Forest, based on a sustainably managed area, negotiable under the current system?
DL - The people have got to understand - I know it is a slash of the pen to change the Forest Act, but it hasn't been changed very often. I am not saying it should or shouldn't be; that is government's perogative. We elected them, we are responsible for their actions and if we don't like it then we change it; that is the democratic system. I would like people to understand that we have been told that area-based can't be done under the present legislation - the options are really limited. Until tenure reform takes place there will be no area-based tenure for a Community Forest unless you accept a TFL. What people have told me time and time again is that they don't want a TFL and I agree.

SR - Why do you agree?
DL - Because we wouldn't have dealt with cut control. If you talk to Mission and Revelstoke you are bound by one more set of rules, and the TFL's are over regulated now. It would only be worth it if you could address cut control. If we are not going to get cut control but can manage a chart area as if it was an area-base then I think that is the better route. If you take a TFL, then bang, you are a major licensee. There is no way around it, you are just one of those guys.

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