Thursday, May 31, 2007

Trees for tourists

There has been some discussion lately on local radio about how the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Mill (arguably the reason why there is a Corner Brook, or at least, why Corner Brook can boast of being Newfoundland's "Second City") can not harvest upwards of 25% of its trees because they are in areas that have become increasingly popular with tourists. The mill has had to import wood from other places because the goverment has been telling them that they don't want to ruin the aesthetics of the landscape for tourists. Given the increasingly competitive market for newsprint, which is mainly what the mill produces (do you read the The New York Times? The paper most likely came from Corner Brook), the mill is upset that it can't get to its own wood.

The mill has asked the provincal government to create a resource strategy that would clarify some priorities so they can plan for the future but the government is being a little vague, side-stepping the real questions with broad statements about supporting all industries and economic sectors, etc., etc..

It will be very interesting to see what will happen now that a major economic player like the mill has bumped up against everyone's new favorite belle at the ball, the tourism industry.


v said...

Hi Robyn,

I was just checking the site to see whether or not it was back up, and I thought I'd add my toonie's worth to the lumber discussion. :)

The government is in a tricky spot. On the one hand, it's beholden to Kruger (the company that owns the mill; you may also hear it referred to as "Bowaters"), a lease-holder of major tracts of Crown land, but on the other hand, the government does not want to irk the ire of the population.

After all, Newfoundlanders have been collecting and using lumber from Crown land for home building and heating purposes, since the first fishing families over-wintered here.

In modern times, Kruger now controls the Crown land that has the "best" lumber on it. That leaves Crown deed-holders leasing cabin plots from the old logging camps, where the lumber on the land is second-growth. That's still quality lumber though, for almost everyone. Note the word "almost". :)

So Kruger's diminishing land areas are encroached on even further, once you take the "poachers" (that can't be the right word) into consideration.

Many people have their own small-scale mills, to process the lumber they collect (wherever they get it from), and do so freely. Once lumber has been processed on a home mill, it is unfit for commercial processing.

So, if Kruger catches you just after you've "collected" logs from company-controlled Crown land, you're cooked. You lose the logs, you lose your mill, there are fines and charges, etc., etc.

Once the logs are processed on a home mill however, the company is in a "too bad so sad" bind, and Buddy gets his camp built with commercial-quality lumber for only the cost of the diesel to run the generator. :)

So, that's another reason the government is deliberately staying vague. Crown land use and distribution is always a thorny issue. Here, it's more a matter of the government trying to stay out of the potentially ugly crossfire between a major corporation, and deed-holders living here, who've got title records going back a couple of hundred years.

Robyn said...

Hi V,

Thanks for your comment. I hadn't thought about the issue(s) you mentioned at all. I was reacting to an interview on CBC with a mill rep. who specifically mentioned that the increased tourism on the west coast, particularly the corridor from Corner Brook to Deer Lake and Deer Lake to Gros Morne. It also is the site of prime logging land. He described the situation very much in terms of tourism vs. the mill. But you add a very interesting wrinkle that actually makes the whole thing make more sense.