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The annual Woodlands Open House was held at the Allan & Jean Millar Centre on May 2. Alberta Newsprint Company (ANC), Millar Western Forest Products, and Blue Ridge Lumber West Fraser each set up a booth which included their harvesting and reforestation maps. Community members were invited to ask any questions they may have.
Tracey Courser, Management Forester with Blue Ridge Lumber, was on hand to speak with attendees. “We use this event to show the public and our stakeholders what we’re planning to do for the upcoming timber season, where we’re going to be operating, what our plans are for silviculture, and which cut blocks we’re planning to harvest.”
Ken Anderson, Planning Superintended for Millar Western, said they were looking for public feedback on any concerns that residents may have involving any of the areas they are proposing to operate in this season. “Most of the questions we are getting are around the caribou zone which is in one of our operating areas.” Interesting fact: Within two years of harvesting, Millar Western plants three seedlings for every conifer tree felled.
ANC employees Rod Brooks, Fibre Superintendent; and Kevin Wilchak, Forest Area Supervisor brought several interesting pictures for their display showcasing different aspects of their production from tilling to tree planting and equipment operators. During the open house they heard from trappers. “They were concerned that we may be working around their trap lines,” said Kevin. “They want us to work together,” added Rod.
Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and MLA of Whitecourt-Ste. Anne, attended the Open House, saying “I think it’s a really good opportunity to touch base,” adding that he talks with the local forestry industry often and saw this as another opportunity to do so.
During his time with each company, Carlier said they talked about the continuing challenge around the Caribou range planning and the fairly new challenge around the softwood lumber agreement. “We are going to vigorously oppose the sanctions that are put on by the American government and we will be successful in the end. We’ve been successful four times and this is round five. We will be successful again but we will have to put up that fight,” said Carlier.
Continuing with the topic of softwood lumber sanctions, Carlier pointed to the opportunity that Alberta has. “We have opportunities to expand our market. It’s going to make us do even more work marketing our products to Asia, to Europe, and around the world. We’ve got good products; let’s get them out there.”