The Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation (RCFC) was formed in April 1993 to manage and operate Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 56 which was purchased by the City of Revelstoke from Westar Timber Ltd. The City’s primary reason for purchasing the Licence was to regain some control over the local forest resources for social and economic reasons, but also to improve the standard of forest management and environmental protection in the area.
Joining the City in the purchase were three local forest companies with strong ties to the community, Downie Timber, Joe Kozek Sawmills and Cascade Cedar Products. The City holds 100% of the shares in the corporation while the industry partners were given Timber Removal Rights to a portion of the licence’s Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) based on each companies financial contribution. The City’s sawlog allocation (50% of the AAC) is sold through a log sort yard on a competitive bid basis. The industry partner’s sawlog volumes are provided at cost (averaged annually) with species and grades representative of the profile harvested. Pulpwood is sold under separate contract with the proceeds being factored back into the cost of logs.
TFL 56 is located in the rugged Columbia Mountains one hour north of the City of Revelstoke in the Downie Creek and Goldstream River drainages. The TFL consists of a gross land base of 120,000 hectares of which 59,000 ha. is forested. The Timber Harvesting Land Base is 33,700 hectares of which 12,000 hectares is reserved to meet wildlife and biodiversity requirements. The present AAC is set at 100,000 m3/year, including a partitioned cut of 10,000 m3/year for timber “above the operability line”, less a Small Business Forest Enterprise Program of 12,000 m3/year. The climatic conditions in the interior wet belt are very favourable for tree growth and have produced extensive stands of large cedar, hemlock, spruce and balsam along with minor volumes of Douglas fir and white pine. While some of the timber is of very high quality, much is full of rot and decay and is suitable only for pulpwood. The companies challenge is maximize its returns on the better quality timber enough to pay for the removal of the poor quality timber and still remain viable. Excellent restocking and growth on harvested sites will ensure better returns from the forest in the future.
Wildlife is abundant on TFL 56, and includes populations of scarce animal species such as mountain caribou, grizzly bears, wolverines and rare bats. It is also home to many more common big game species such as moose, deer, mountain goats, black bears and wolves which are hunted by big game outfitters and residents. The mountainous terrain with its deep snow is well suited to heli-skiing and two back country ski-lodges are located adjacent to the TFL. Heli-hiking is also becoming a popular business enterprise. Local residents use the area for a variety of outdoor recreation pursuits from nature study through to snowmobiling and mountain climbing. The wide variety of resources and resource users requires a strong commitment from the corporation to manage the landbase sensitively, taking into account all values.
The community has recently gone through a long and intensive land use planning process, known as the Minister’s Advisory Committee or MAC, which has delineated important areas and management goals for mountain caribou habitat, biodiversity corridors, winter ungulate range and other forest uses. The plan, which has been submitted to the Minister of Forests for approval, will provide a good starting point to guide forest management and development plans as well as other land use planning decisions in the area.
RCFC is governed by a seven member Board of Directors composed of the Mayor, two City Councillors, the City Administrator and three appointees from the community. A staff of five employees manage the day to day business. The industry partners have input through a Management Advisory Committee. All forest management, construction, logging and silviculture activities are contracted out. The goal is to maximize local employment and economic benefit in the community. The Corporation is funded through the proceeds of log sales. A condition of the TFL agreement with the government is that 50% of the AAC from the licence must be sold on a competitive basis to the highest bidder. During the community referendum which was held to ratify purchasing the TFL, a commitment was made that tax payers would not be called upon to fund the venture. In its seven years of operation the company has continued to be a profitable business and has managed to meet the expectations of the majority of citizens of the community.