B.C. forestry open house seeks community feedback
November 15, 2023 By Wells Gray Community Forest Corporation
With good forest management and the benefit of the Clearwater community at the forefront of its decision making, the Wells Gray Community Forest Corporation (WGCFC) is excited to invite community members of Clearwater and surrounding communities to a Community Forest Input Session.
People are invited to attend one or both sessions on Monday, Nov. 20, at Dutch Lake School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Members of the public will learn about WGCFC current projects and new developments, plus how the community forest is working in collaboration with the Simpcw First Nation on forest stewardship objectives.
By attending the session, the WGCFC is not only hoping to share updates on current and upcoming forestry projects but gain a better understanding from the public on their perception of the WGCFC’s work and to provide input.
“We are looking forward to this full day of engaging with the community,” shared George Brcko, general manager of the WGCFC. “Our ask of the community is that we are given the opportunity to share some of the goals we have as a community forest, while also giving community members lots of time to ask questions and provide their feedback and ideas. We then will take this input from community, and together with the best practices for good forest management, we will develop a forest management plan and our operational objectives.”
Brcko is hoping to see a good turn out of community members, noting a background in forestry for attendees is not required.
“We are working with project partners like Forsite to take complex forestry and management terms and make them accessible for non-foresters to understand,” noted Brcko. “We really want to people to come out to learn and share.”
Looking forward to the event is Joel Steinberg, president of the WGCFC Board of Directors. Steinberg has lived in the area for over 50 years and has been a part of the WGCFC Board for over a decade. He not only sees the good the WGCFC team and contractors do to manage the forest but understands why it’s key to get members of the community attending.
“Often, there is a lack of interest from the public about our community forest, and we know part of that falls on us to do a better job communicating to invite people to learn and share,” said Steinberg. “Our community forest is unique in that it is owned and managed by citizens – people who are our neighbours, co-workers, and friends. Our collective interest is specifically focused on how we manage our community forest resource well so that many generations from now, the community forest is thriving and generating income to help pay for things the community needs and wants.”
Community forests play a key role in the province of British Columbia to practice ecologically responsible forest management while supporting vibrant, often rural communities and economies. Jennifer Gunter, executive director of the BC Community Forest Association applauds WGCFC for their commitment to community engagement to help guide their work.
“Informed public participation is a cornerstone of community forestry, and so the efforts that George and the Wells Gray Community Forest Corporation Board are making to include the community in the development of their plans and objectives are crucial,” said Gunter. “Throughout the province, community forests are doing innovative forest management which is generating economic, social, cultural, and environmental benefits for local communities. At its core, community forestry is about local control over the benefits offered by local forests, which is why the voice of the community is such an important part of good forest management.”
“For those unable to attend, we still want their feedback,” remarked Brcko. “Go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/wgcf2023 to confidentially fill out an online survey which is open from Nov. 20 to Dec. 20. We hope to see many old and new faces to share more about the thoughtful work we have been up to and how our community forest benefits our entire community.”
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