Timber harvesting is being deferred or delayed in a number of areas in the Lillooet TSA until decisions or resolutions are reached. The recent November 23, 1995 Stein Valley decision, which created a provincial park covering the entire Stein Valley, reduced the number of deferred areas under the PAS - reducing the total area in protected areas and areas deferred due to PAS from about 23 percent of the total TSA area to 18 percent. Areas currently under deferral through PAS, or delay due to First Nations' concerns, include:
nine approved PAS study areas, including the Spruce Lake area, which total about 90 000 ha; and
four areas with First Nations' concerns, in the Camoo area, Pavilion Creek, Siska Creek, and Fountain Valley, totalling about 43 000 ha.
Using the percentage of the entire TSA in the timber harvesting land base as a basis for approximation, about 33 000 ha of this 133 000 ha area could be in the timber harvesting land base, representing about 13 percent of the TSA.
Although harvesting is not presently carried out in the deferred areas, these areas were included in the timber harvesting land base in the BCFS analysis and, as noted in AAC rationale statements for a number of other TSAs, I find no statutory basis upon which to exclude them from the timber harvesting land base. My interpretation of Section 7 of the Forest Act, read in conjunction with Section 53 and Part 15 of the Act, is that in an AAC determination under Section 7 of the Forest Act, until and unless government makes land-use decisions prohibiting or restricting harvesting in contentious areas, these areas must be considered as part of the timber harvesting land base, even though the timber in these areas may not be expected to provide any of the actual harvest.
The avoidance of harvesting operations in deferred areas in this TSA is causing increasing harvesting pressures on the remainder of the timber harvesting land base, and has presented major difficulties to the district and licensees in finding environmentally acceptable areas in which to harvest at the level authorized under the current AAC. The recent decision to reduce the area in deferrals under PAS should lessen this difficulty to some degree, but nevertheless the deferrals and delays still pose a major operational challenge to the forest district.
I am concerned that the ongoing avoidance of harvesting in contentious areas means that, for harvesting to continue in the TSA at the level indicated by the AAC, the remaining areas must be harvested at higher rates. If the deferrals continue, at some point, the achievement of integrated resource management objectives may necessitate a reduction in the harvest level in order to meet forest cover or other objectives. If the issues remain unresolved and at some point the district manager becomes concerned that the allowable harvest level cannot be met on the remaining available land base while continuing to meet integrated resource management objectives, the district manager may wish to take steps towards an application to Cabinet for the specification of designated areas that would allow for a temporary AAC reduction under Part 15 of the Forest Act.
For this determination, while I appreciate the major impacts caused by existing deferrals and delays in the TSA, in keeping with my guiding principles and my interpretation of the Forest Act, I will not speculate on future land use decisions and treaty negotiations that government may make in the future, and I cannot exclude these areas from the timber harvesting land base in my determination. However, once land use decisions have been made by government, further analysis can be undertaken and, if necessary, this AAC may be redetermined before the end of the required five-year period.