Last month when the District of Houston brought forth the issue of expansion of the Dungate Community Forest to the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN), a suggestion was made to formulate an advisory committee of stakeholders affected by the expansion. This suggestion was taken to heart by Grey Yeomans, who is spearheading the expansion.
In a more informal meeting held at the end of last month, with some members from the Buckflats area, Yeomans took the first step in bringing in input from the stakeholders and said that the meeting was “an opportunity to provide input into the expansion and understand it better.”
Chris Newell, who is a resident of the Buckflats area as well as the Director for Electoral Area G (Houston Rural), was present at the meeting and said that the meeting was an important step forward.
“It was kind of an information session and from the Buckflats perspective, it was really to push the idea that we need to have some local say in what logging looks like throughout the Buckflats under the proposed expansion area. And the exciting part of that conversation is that they have committed to having a Buckflats working group and we will have a say in what the logging looks like and what the values are through that area,” said Newell.
Newell was also the one who had raised concerns around the expansion in terms of logging, during the RDBN meeting. He had said that while the expansion would have a lot of benefits, doing it mindfully and carefully was important.
Yeomans, who told Houston Today that while everyone was very supportive of the community forest, they also want more public input.
“That’s pretty much the case for other groups too – the mountain biking association, the ski club, and they are all very supportive of the community forest, like the idea as it will bring a lot more money in to the community and so the idea has a lot of positives but I guess harvesting so close to the community and the concern is that it is done well and done right and the way to do it right is to get a feedback from the community,” he said.
The District of Houston and the Dungate Community Forest have been looking to expand the community forest to include the Morice Mountain Recreation Area and other areas close to Houston and Buck Flats. This expansion is being proposed, keeping in mind the economic benefits and employment opportunities as a result of an expansion.
Currently, those pushing for the expansion, are in the process of gathering public input and once it is all put together, it will be sent across to the Ministry according to Yeomans.
“We just have to wait till the election is concluded and the dust settles and we know who we are dealing with as far as the Minister of Forests goes. And big part of our application to the government will be what the community said and how we responded to that and so we have been working and discussing the expansion with First Nations and community groups, and we are still expecting a few letters,” said Yeomans, adding that there definitely will be a sort of an advisory committee but later in the stage and he hoped that they are able to come up with “a really good mechanism for the public to provide input into the planning management of that community forest area.”