More than $100,000 was distributed to organizations in Clinton at the Clinton and District Community Forest’s annual public meeting on Wednesday, May 9. The event took place at Clinton’s Memorial Hall and was well-attended, with catering by the Mill Girl Follies.
Clinton’s Community Forest (CCF) Chair Robin Fennell introduced the board of directors present: Murray Kane, Jake McLean, Hank Hanemaayer, Wade Dyck, and Christine Rivett. Mike Simpson, a member of the Fraser Basin Council, returned to serve as the event facilitator.
Mayor Susan Swan explained that the CCF involves three pillars of sustainable development: social, ecological, and economic. Community forestry, said Swan, is about “local control over and enjoyment of the monetary and non-monetary benefits offered by local forest resources.” Community Forest agreements in British Columbia are granted only to legal entities that represent community interests, and grant the holder exclusive rights to log and harvest Crown timber in a particular area.
The CCF is responsible for ensuring sustainable harvesting as well as the protection of the environment and forests from things like wildfires and insect infestations. As the only shareholder of the CCF, the Village of Clinton receives dividends from the organization, but funds are also distributed within the community.
On Wednesday evening, the board of directors presented the recipients of this year’s CCF funding with large novelty cheques. In total, $115,046 was distributed to local organizations.
The CCF distributes profits to the Village of Clinton and to community organizations within the Village once all funding for operational needs has been collected. Sixty per cent of profits are returned to the Village of Clinton annually, and forty per cent are donated to various community organizations at the discretion of the board.
Last year, the CCF’s net cash available for distribution was $96,760. As of December 31, 2018, the CCF’s available profits for distribution totalled a whopping $394, 512!
Psalm 23 Transition Society received an astounding donation of $25,000. Clinton Country Artists received $1,500, and David Stoddart School received $10,000 towards its Nutritional Meals program and another $2,000 towards the Breakfast Program.
The Clinton Annual Ball Committee received $3,000 and the Parade Committee received $1,000. The Clinton Firefighters Association received two cheques, for $16,850 and $2,390. The Clinton Old Timer’s Tea received $500, the Health Care Auxiliary received $5,000, the Clinton and District Agricultural Association received $2,000, and the Clinton 4H Club received two cheques for $1,000 and $6,500. DSS’s Beautification Committee received $1,800.
The South Cariboo Historical Museum Society received $5,000, Communities in Bloom received $800, Clinton’s Food Bank received $10,000, the Clinton Curling Club received $10,000, and the Clinton Snow Jockey Club received $2,000. Kids Rock Camp received $8,206, and the Desert Mesa Lions Club received $500.
The funds will be allocated to a variety of projects within the community. CiB will put their cheque towards a new community greenhouse, while the Country Artists will work on stands for their art show. The Curling Club plans to use their funds to purchase an ice scraper, and the Fire Department will invest in a new winch system. Kids Rock Camp will provide their campers with new tents, and the 4H Club has plans to establish a commemorative bursary.
The CCF awarded a cheque for $236,707 to the Village of Clinton, more than four times last year’s distribution of $58,056.
Residents who attended last year’s AGM may recall that the CCF was unable to log timber of any kind in 2017, but still distributed funds to the community. As the evening’s generous distributions indicate, last year was a much better one for Clinton’s Community Forest.
Chair Robin Fennell explained that 2018 was successful, with harvesting in Jesmond, Big Bar, Clinton, and Knife Lake. Both the Clinton and Knife Lake permits are fire salvage, as 25 per cent of the Community Forest was damaged during the Elephant Hill wildfire.
Last summer’s field tour in Jesmond was well-attended and proved a valuable learning experience for participants. The tour was successful enough to warrant another one this year, its date yet to be announced.
Law promised that a similar school field trip will also be organized for children at David Stoddart School. Clinton’s Community Forest has been able to offer annual bursaries to DSS graduates since its inception.
The board of directors meets monthly to oversee the organization’s operations, and in the past year partnered with Psalm 23 to distribute 37 loads of firewood to residents who had difficulty obtaining it themselves. In 2020, the Community Forest will plant 916,000 seedlings within the Elephant Hill wildfire area.
“We’re obligated to put trees back,” explained Law. This principle is part of silviculture liability.
Kane said that the organization has contributed positively to the local economy and hopes to increase employment opportunities. “We want to see more jobs out of this wood in the future.” He explained that the greatest payoff for the CCF’s board of volunteers is watching money return to the community: “That’s very rewarding.”
The CCF has paid out more than $2,500,000 to the local area. Large-scale donations to the Village and its community organizations are made annually, but local contractors are also hired, including truckers, loggers, and equipment operators. Timber is regularly supplied to West Fraser Chasm, and forestry, geotechnical, and silviculture consultants have been hired.
Looking ahead, the CCF offered a list of long-term objectives, which include the following: reduce risks from fire, insect, and disease; encourage value added manufacturing; promote further multiple resource use within the Community Forest; promote efficiencies and the profitability of the corporation; develop new and innovative forest practices suitable to the area; and continue to supply dividends and other benefits to the local economy.
The organization plans to diversify and make use of residual logging waste through the utilization of hog fuel and co-generation. They hope to eliminate the need for burning waste and promote the use of other non-timber resources. Further, the CCF will encourage small businesses through guaranteed fibre agreements and incentives.
In 2019 and 2020, development will continue within areas affected by the Elephant Hill wildfire. Salvage will remain a priority, but thousands of new trees will also be planted through the Forest Enhancement and Forests for Tomorrow programs. The CCF’s 25-year agreement is based on perpetuity, said Law, with an intent to be sustainable forever.
Having walked the cut blocks frequently, Law is surprised at how fast the green-up is progressing within areas burnt by wildfire. He said regrowth has been better and faster than he expected.
When it comes to addressing land that has been particularly scorched, breaking up the soil is one useful method, but Law maintained that Mother Nature and time are the best remedies.
Recently, the CCF received $110,000 from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC for Fuel Management Treatment, which will be used to construct a 100 metre-wide fuel break south of Clinton.
Residents of the Village can expect to see a public meeting announced in the near future with more information on the fire break.