The Vermillion Forks Community Forest Corporation (“VFCFC”), a partnership of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band, Town of Princeton, and Regional District Okanagan Similkameen is ending its first full year of operations.
Originally contemplated in a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding and a subsequent Partnership Memorandum of Understanding between the three partners, the partners spent three years preparing an application for a community forest license and on November 29, 2010 were awarded a license by the Province of B.C. The license provides exclusive land management and harvesting rights over approximately 11,000 hectares surrounding Princeton.
During the lengthy application process for a community forest license, the three partners embarked on extensive research and management and business planning processes that resulted in the decision to apply for long-term tenure over Crown forest lands in close proximity to Princeton and to incorporate a company to hold the license. The area of tenure chosen had many benefits, including the ease to manage lands in close proximity to Princeton and the ease of conducting forest operations with close proximity to processing facilities.
The corporations industry partner Weyerhaeuser, manages timber operations on behalf of VFCFC. Saw logs are either processed locally at the Princeton Weyerhaeuser operation or sold to other forest companies. Post and rail material harvested is being sold to Princeton Post and Rail and Princeton Wood Preservers. The sale of timber by the forestry corporation will generate revenues for the partners to disburse back to their respective communities.
Although timber operations will be the main economic stimulus of the community forest, using other non-timber forest products and developing alternate land use opportunities will be long term objectives of VFCFC. The community forest was intended to serve the social, economic and environmental needs of the community. In general terms, the VFCFC will be managing the forest for all of its product potential rather than just timber.
The forest corporation is working with the China Ridge Ski Association on establishing a Memorandum of Understanding in order to establish a special management area in and around the China Ridge recreation area. By establishing a special management area, recreation endeavors can be protected and enhanced. Undertaking these kinds of community partnerships is one of the key benefits of having local tenure over these lands; it enables local management and control of recreation and sensitive areas.
Highlights from 2011 operating year include:
• Adopt forestry operation management with Weyerhaeuser Canada.
• Adopt corporate governance and operating policies.
• Adopt 2011 forestry operating plan.
• Harvesting approximately 22,000 m3 of saw and post and rail logs generating gross revenues of $900,000.