Make yourself comfortable. There’s a lot to report.

The PFLA continues to work diligently with federal, provincial and local governments on an unprecedentedly long list of public policy developments. In fact, PFLA Regulatory Committee members can’t recall a time when the association’s been consulted (or, more accurately, insisted on being consulted) on so many policy areas at once.

The objective of PFLA’s involvement, in all cases, is to:

  • remind government that private land exists
  • demonstrate why policy distinction is necessary for private land
  • ensure our communication with all forms of government is consistent and ongoing
  • promote and advance the PFLA mission
  • demonstrate we are responsible stewards working to balance environment, community and commerce

To those of you participating, thank you for your diligence, persistence, questions, comments, hard work and support. To those of you interested in getting involved, we look forward to hearing from you.

Here are a few highlights from our current public policy activities:

1. Fire Prevention and Cost Sharing Agreements

  • The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations – Protection Branch is reviewing its operations; particularly, the financial aspects of Fire Prevention Cost Sharing Agreements with BC’s forest owners and other land managers.
  • The review process is in early stages and the details are unclear, but the core issue is government’s concern about spending more money than it collects from program participants.
  • A conversation with key stakeholders is in the works, and PFLA is involved and committed to representing the perspective of private forest owners.

2. Off Road Vehicles Act & Regulations

  • The government is in the process of regulating off-road vehicles in BC.
  • PFLA is engaged in the process with the objectives of:
  • maintaining distinction for private land
  • fighting trespassing, environmental damage, garbage dumping, arson, vandalism, theft and associated problems
  • increasing government’s capacity to enforce the law without eroding private property rights
  • You can find more information about the ORV Vehicle Management Framework here.

3. Private Managed Forest Land Act

  • Managed Forest (MF) owners on Galiano Island are in the bizarre, and uniquely ugly, position of owning and caring for forest land on a beautiful island where restrictive local government bylaws prevent them from living legally in their forests. Not even one dwelling per parcel, some of which exceed hundreds of acres.
  • PFLA has found no other example of this kind of extreme and hostile restriction in BC, Canada, or North America.
  • The Private Managed Forest Land (PMFL) Act is intended to foster stewardship of private forest land by providing regulatory certainty, and maintaining forest management.
  • This is a provincial, not local, government priority. The right to reside on MF land is a key component of the PMFL Act.
  • In a recent legal challenge, the judge found that the province’s intention to protect owners’ right to reside on their land is abundantly clear in the PMFL Act; however, the legislation lacks the words necessary to affirm the provincial jurisdiction over forest management in the case of Galiano Island.
  • The judge noted the necessity for the province to correct this problem.
  • Despite many years of communication from forest owners, this situation has not improved.
  • PFLA finds local government interference of this magnitude is extremely restrictive and a strong disincentive to responsible forest stewardship.
  • PFLA is working with Galiano MF owners and government. We look forward to seeing government do the right thing: change the wording to make the policy intent of the legislation undeniably clear.

4. Migratory Birds Convention Act – Regulation of Incidental Take

  • The federal government was working on a model to regulate the incidental take of migratory birds: options included BMPs and various permits.
  • The intention was to provide all Canadian land managers, who come into contact with migratory birds, with a clear and legal process, or permit, to comply with the stated provisions of the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
  • In October of 2010, the federal government announced it would no longer work on regulations to permit the incidental take of migratory birds.
  •  PFLA is working with the Canadian Private Forest Landowners Council (CPFLC), and other forest and land management groups, from across Canada, to advocate for private forest owners on this issue.

5. Species at Risk – BC Species at Risk Task Force

  • The provincial government has established a task force to make recommendations regarding the protection of species at risk in BC.
  • PFLA is engaged in this process and makes it a priority to help government understand the issue from a private land perspective.
  • We are encouraged to report that the task force recognizes private land is separate and distinct from public land, and also acknowledges the need for education and incentives.
  • Again, this is an ongoing policy process, and PFLA is in regular communication with government to ensure the perspective of private forest owners is represented.

6. New Water Sustainability Act – Water Act Modernization

  • The province is in the process of modernizing the Water Act: a piece of legislation with significant implications for all landowners; particularly, Managed Forest owners who conduct work in and around streams and stream crossings.
  • Historically, PFLA has pro-actively partnered with government to raise awareness and promote the value of responsible streamside management.
  • We continue to advocate strongly from the private land perspective.
  • PFLA is closely involved in the current legislative review process, and committed to working with government to find a balance between environment, community and commerce.

7. BC Log Export Policy Review

  • BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations recently initiated another review of log export policy (more details here).
  • PFLA is engaged in this process and consistently lobbies, both federal and provincial governments, for the right of private forest owners to obtain fair value for our logs.
  • Log export restrictions impact the value of our land and our trees. The trees we invest considerable time and resources in to plant, grow and harvest.
  • PFLA also strives to add balanced and factual information to public discussion and media coverage surrounding this issue (for example: response to Ben Parfitt; balanced Nanaimo Daily News article).

Thank you for taking the time to read through the PFLA public policy highlights.

While this is an exceptionally busy time for the PFLA Regulatory Committee, we’re happy to be engaged with elected officials, ministry staff, managed forest operators, and community members on so many levels.

Please let us know if you have any questions, comments or concerns. We continue to work hard to ensure the perspective of private forest landowners is represented, understood, and promoted throughout the policy process.

As always, we welcome, encourage, appreciate, and need your input: leave us a message below, send us an email, or give us a call.

There will also be plenty of opportunity for discussion at local PFLA community meetings: October/November 2011.

More details to follow soon, but tentatively, meetings are scheduled for:

• Victoria
• Nanaimo
• Courtney
• Vancouver
• Castlegar
• Kelowna

See you there!