GARY MCKENNA Staff reporter
Premier Gordon Campbell was in town Friday to sign an agreement giving the Kamloops Indian Band a license to harvest mountain pine beetle-infested wood.
Jokingly referring to the timber as pine beetle-enhanced wood, Campbell said attitudes about infected forests were changing and the market for B.C. lumber is still strong.
"It is pine beetle-improved wood, and we are going to market it around the world," he said of the blue hue found in infected lumber.
Campbell said people outside of B.C. still hold the province's timber in high regard - and many from other countries don't even know about the mountain pine beetle.
Close to 124,000 cubic metres of beetle-infested pine will be harvested by the Kamloops Indian Band over three years, augmenting an earlier agreement for 272,000 cubic metres over five years.
Campbell said the agreement will bring aboriginals closer to fully participating in B.C.'s forest sector while aiding the province in suppressing the mountain pine beetle.
KIB Chief Shane Gottfriedson said the agreement will go far to help fulfill the economic goals of the local aboriginal community.
The band plans to build a log sort and associated facilities with the beetle wood that is harvested.
"The expanded timber access granted today supports our vision for a vibrant local economy," he said.
According to a government news release, the province has forged agreements with 106 First Nations bands, providing access to 17.1 million cubic metres of timber and sharing $120.5 million in revenue.
Mountain pine beetle agreements have been signed with the Little Shuswap, Bonaparte, Simpcw, Red Bluff and Lhoosk'us Dene bands.