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Parks Settlement Agreement -- MacMillan Bloedel

News Release


NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT REACHED WITH MACMILLAN BLOEDEL ON VANCOUVER ISLAND PARKS

Reference # 1999:027 * Released on Mar 16, 1999 *

VICTORIA — After a year of tough negotiations, the B.C. government has reached an agreement with MacMillan Bloedel to resolve the company's loss of harvesting rights due to the creation of new parks on Vancouver Island in the mid-1990s.

MacMillan Bloedel will receive resource rights and land from the province worth
$83.75 million, the negotiated value of MB's forgone cutting rights covering about six million cubic metres of timber. The specific lands to be transferred have yet to be identified but may include release of MacMillan Bloedel's private land from tree farm licences 39 and 44 and/or transfer of Crown parcels to MacMillan Bloedel as private property. These parcels may be drawn from Crown lands within the E&N Belt on eastern Vancouver Island or from Crown land under existing MB tenures. The total amount of public and private forest land involved will represent less than one per cent of B.C.'s commercial forest land base.

"This creative solution allows government to meet its conservation goals while remaining responsible to the taxpayers of British Columbia," said Forests Minister David Zirnhelt. "I applaud MB's progressive attitude toward forestry and expect the company to manage any new private land in the same progressive manner."

MB president Tom Stephens emphasized the company's commitment to follow its new corporate forest policy on all public and private forest lands managed by MB, including those in this agreement.

"Our forest management policies require the phasing out of all clearcutting over the next five years, increased conservation of old growth and independent validation of our forest practices through certification," said Stephens. "In addition, the agreement demonstrates to the North American investment community that government and industry in British Columbia can work through complex issues when there is good faith on both sides."

"Some spectacular parks have acquired for the benefit of all British Columbians," said Environment Minister Cathy MacGregor. "These include Clayoquot Sound, additions to Strathcona Park, Carmanah Pacific, Tsitika, Tahsish-Kwois, Brooks Peninsula and Nitinat River."

The agreement also defines the process to select and appraise the lands to be transferred to MB. The first step is to identify parcels of land in MB's operating areas, which will then be evaluated by the province. The province will consult with First Nations, as per the Delgamuukw decision, and other stakeholders before selecting lands suitable for transfer. These lands will be independently appraised to determine their worth.

In September, 1997, MacMillan Bloedel filed a lawsuit against the province stating that newly created parks had affected their harvesting right. The lawsuit will be dropped once all conditions of the agreement are met.

"Coming to this agreement with MacMillan Bloedel meets our longstanding commitment to pay fair compensation for these parks," said Zirnhelt.

Victoria lawyer David Perry will lead the consultation process. Perry is noted for bringing stakeholders together in 1996 to develop a preservation plan for the Greater Victoria watershed. Consultation will be done over the next three months.

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Contact

      Bruce McRae
      Assistant Deputy Minister
      Ministry of Forests
      (250) 387-4809

      Bill Cafferata
      Chief Forester
      MacMillan Bloedel
      (604) 661-8411