Salmon Arm Observer


Martha Wickett

Million-dollar agreement signed

New agreements signed between the provincial government and the Adams Lake Band will give the band access to Crown timber and to new economic opportunities.

A year of negotiations wrapped up Dec. 14 with the signing of two agreements. Under a three-year mountain pine beetle agreement, the band will gain access to 86,235 cubic metres of beetle wood within the Kamloops Timber Supply Area. The second agreement, called a forest and range opportunities agreement, will provide access to an additional 187,545 cubic metres of timber and $1.7 million in shared revenue over five years.

“It gives us an opportunity to get involved in addressing the mountain pine beetle situation, but also creates economic and employment opportunities for our membership,” Adams Lake Band Chief Nelson Leon told the Shuswap Market News.

He said the band currently has a forestry department that manages a woodlot and a number of cuts in the area, but will probably be bringing on an additional forester as a result of the agreement.

He expects the agreement will have benefits for the region, not just the band.

“We don’t have the full complement of forest operation equipment so chances are those opportunities will be contracted with existing workers – and that contributes to the regional economy. In itself it’s a benefit to all of us in the economy.”

Leon said the Kamloops Indian Band signed an agreement earlier this year, so the two bands will strive to realize the benefits of a combined marketing strategy.

He said the Adams Lake Band will need to put together a cutting permit and forest development plan before any logging takes place.

“We’re looking at mid to late January – not for the whole volume, only for a portion. There’s a bit of a time delay between signing and field operations but we’re trying to minimize that.”

He’s hopeful that the agreements will help reposition the band in the regional economy.

“We have an irrigation project underway, and land development on the go. We’re moving forward in having greater participation in economic opportunities and this is one of the building blocks I see there,” Leon said, noting that the agreements are supported by the band’s elders.

Currently the Adams Lake Band has 730 members in two communities, one in Chase and one in Salmon Arm. The band holds seven parcels of land, Nelson says, including land at the mouth of the South Thompson River, the Little Shuswap, on Adams Lake and on Shuswap Lake.

He said Salmon Arm Mayor Marty Bootsma and Chase Mayor Harry Danyluk were purposefully invited to the signing of the agreements.

“This was to let them know it will be a benefit to all our communities,” Leon said. “It demonstrates a willingness to develop political linkages and consideration of the whole economy.”

An aside to the agreements, Leon said, is that they may assist the band in opening its lumber mill, ALDCO Wood Products, which has been shut down for about eight months. When up and running, the mill employs about 12 people.

At the agreement signing, provincial Forests and Range Minster Rich Coleman was present, as was Kamloops North Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger.

“These agreements, and the benefits that will result, are examples of what’s possible when we work together,” Krueger remarked.

The press release accompanying the signing notes that since 2002, the province has reached agreements with 118 First Nations, sharing more than $154.9 million in revenue and access to 23.1 million cubic metres of timber.

Copyright 2006 salmonarm