LighthouseNOW article provides a little more clarity on pending WestFor Agreement

Negotiations with the Mi’kmaq community are required and appropriate.

Western Crown lands, modified from CPAWS map (2012)

An article by Brittany Wentzell in LighthouseNOW, a Bridgewater and Lunenburg-based newspaper, provides some new info about the pending Forest Utilization Licence Agreement (FULA) that would give a consortium of 13 mills (“with WestFor”) access and a lot of management control over the Western Crown Lands for the next 10 years.

The online version opens with an image of the letter sent by the County of Annapolis to Premier McNeil on March 3 (view post Mar 8, 2017).

At the beginning of the article a clarification is made with regard to the status of the 10-year agreement: “WestFor has a one-year timber licence with the province, but a pending 10-year licence agreement is being negotiated…The province announced 10-year fibre allocations to the consortium in October 2014, but didn’t sign a timber licence with WestFor until January 2016, a licence that was set to expire in December 2016 but was extended until the end of March 2017. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) told LighthouseNOW that if the FULA is not finalized by the end of March, the timber licence will be further extended.”

The concerns of Annapolis Co are highlighted, amongst them, that “local mills have left or shut down, and that allowing WestFor to cut in Annapolis County has very little benefit for those in the area.” It notes that Annapolis County has not yet received a reply to their letter.

Negotiations with the Mi’kmaq community are outlined, citing comments from Eric Zscheile, a member of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chief’s negotiating team.

“We want the company to post their operational plans well in advance, not just 60 days in advance but about a year in advance, so that people in the community can look…and then have the ability to let government and the company know about any problems they see with that particular operational plan,” he said…Clearcutting is also a concern as it disrupts traditional activities, such as fishing, hunting, harvesting of personal wood, and herb that the Mi’kmaq have the right to access on Crown land.

“Obviously that can create conflict when you have forestry activity happening on those Crown lands,” said Zscheile. “We are having discussions with government to see how those traditional uses will be protected.”

“Large clearcutting activities, in our estimation, certainly alter those traditional purposes,” he added.

David Dagley, mayor of the Region of Queens, was also interviewed, and LighhouseNOW “reached out to representatives from Digby and Shelburne counties, as some Western Crown land is also located in those areas, but did not hear back before publication.”

There are more details in the article: Communities raise concerns about 10-year licence with WestFor (LighthouseNOW, Mar 22, 2017).

Thanks Brittany Wentzell and LighthouseNOW for shedding some much needed light on the murky waters surrounding this topic.

View previous posts related to the Western Crown Lands and the Westfor Agreement.

Tip of the hat to A.M. for alerting me about the article.

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