Solution to Witset mill’s wood supply problem hampered by bureaucracy – Smithers Interior News


A win-win scenario for solving a timber supply problem for Seaton Forest Products is hampered by forestry regulations.

The small factory just west of Witset makes square cants from inferior lumber, primarily for export to China where they are re-crushed to make shipping crates, pallets, and items. this nature.

The company has an allocation of 80,000 cubic meters per year, which would allow it to operate for 50 weeks employing 23 people, 75% of whom are indigenous.

However, mainly due to the unprecedented humidity of last season, the plant received only 61,000 cubic meters.

Seaton co-owner Andy Thompson said their remaining supply would only support them for about five more weeks, meaning they would be forced to lay off their workers until the next operating season. forest (about six to eight weeks).

Fortunately, there is an offer they could tap into. Pinnacle Pellet in Smithers has an overabundance of logs in its yard. Most are slashes that are only suitable for making pellets, but enough of the quality Seaton seeks to keep them going.

Pinnacle is ready to let Seaton sort their woodpiles and buy what they have.

If they were allowed to enter into a business-to-business agreement, there would be other collateral benefits. Seaton currently supplies Pinnacle with a significant amount of chippings for pellet manufacturing. Log waste that Pinnacle supplies would be returned to them as chips, which means less chips for Pinnacle, which has had issues with neighbors at the pellet plant because of the noise.

Unfortunately, the province’s Concurrent Residual Harvest (CRHS) system is proving to be an obstacle.

The aim of this system is to “improve the use of forest resources” by enabling business-to-business agreements between primary operators and secondary manufacturers. Wood that would previously have been burnt in slash piles can now be sold to companies like Pinnacle and Seaton.

However, CRHS does not allow the recourse and sale of loads of material after transport from the primary harvester to the secondary manufacturer.

Seaton has sought help from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources (FLNRO) and, while sympathetic to the company’s predicament, has so far not found a solution.

In an email to Seaton, Jevan Hanchard, district manager of FLNRO, confirmed that what the two companies are looking to do is simply not allowed.

“Although the CRHS stratum may not work, if Pinnacle has BCTS (BC Timber Sales) or a private volume (or a non-CRHS sawn or sawn volume) these would be available for re-sorting,” a- he declared.

But Pinnacle doesn’t have the volume of non-CRHS lumber Seaton needs, Thompson said.

Cullen said he was also sympathetic, noting that Seaton is ticking all the boxes for an operation that should be supported as it provides local and native jobs while diverting unwanted wood from slash burning.

However, he said it wasn’t just about making an exception to a rule.

“My feeling is that everyone is trying to figure it out, we don’t have an answer yet, but no one is giving up hope and we are all shooting the same way,” he said. “Ministry staff have been very helpful, but when you come up against what seems like a pretty big piece of policy, it can be difficult to find a workaround. “

Cullen said his biggest concerns are the implications of Canada’s softwood lumber agreement with the United States and has consulted with government lawyers reviewing the situation.

“Americans are always on the lookout for anything that would even allow them to claim that this is an illegal subsidy, which it is not, but it has not stopped them in the past.” , did he declare. “They’ll challenge just about anything and everything, so we have to keep an eye on them.”

Finally, he said, he’s not yet sure if this could be a case where a policy is preventing something it maybe wasn’t meant to prevent, but reviewing it is a process. with a very long delay.

“Changing a policy, if possible, doesn’t happen in a week, and while it may or may not be true, while relevant to this story, it doesn’t help (Seaton).”

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