2016 marked the first year of reforestation by Jemi Fibre, including cutblocks throughout the Elk Valley. Reforestation is fulfilling their obligation to the provincial government.
“We have voluntarily applied to have our lands classified as Managed Forest status. Under this status we are bound by the Private Managed Forest Land Council Regulation. As part of complying with this regulation we are required by law to reforest the lands that are harvested,” explained Andrew McCuaig of Jemi Fibre. “We are reforesting to a density greater than what we are required to achieve by law.”
Overall, Jemi Fibre planted 1.1 million seedlings this spring, 400,000 of which were in the Elkford area. Brinkman and Associates Reforestation was contracted to complete the work on Jemi Fibre land.
Throughout the process, Jemi Fibre worked closely with the District of Elkford. According to McCuaig, cooperating with the local governments is an important business practice for Jemi Fibre.
“We think it is important to work with all interested communities. With Elkford in this case because of the proximity to the community and the sensitivity around the trail system. We have been working with/informing the District of Sparwood and as well Fernie, as well as other interested parties like FTA, Wildsight, Trans Canada Trail to name a few,” he said.
The company’s desire to work closely with the community was appreciated by District of Elkford councillors Steve Fairbairn and Mandy McGregor. The two councillors accompanied Jemi Fibre President Mike Jenks and McCuaig to a cutblock near the Josephine Falls, an area where cutblocks are adjacent to a large trail system.
“I appreciate being a part of this, because now even I can say to people, yes I was up there, yes I saw the trees, and I even planted them,” said McGregor.
Fairbairn said he was happy to see the freshly planted forest and understand that multiple species were planted, including pine, larch and spruce trees.
“I really like the fact that it is a mixed forest. That’s more natural,” he said.
Both the councillors and McCuaig spoke to a time where the relationship between Jemi Fibre and the Elkford community wasn’t as strong as it is now. McGregor and Fairbairn credited Jemi Fibre for their hard work in repairing relations with the community by using strong business practices.
“They kept us informed and they listened to feedback,” said Fairbairn. “And I wouldn’t want to underplay the fact that they kept coming back, telling us what they were doing and taking feedback from the community.”
“Their first step was to come to the District and say, this is our plan, this is what we are doing, this is where we are coming from, but where do we need to go from here,” said McGregor. “We sat here and said to them, this is what we are hearing, this is what our concerns are and this is what residents are saying.”
Jemi Fibre has plans to continue their reforestation efforts, and has ordered over two million seedlings for 2017. In subsequest years, they plan to continue reforestation with 1.5 million seedlings per year.
Recently, Jemi Fibre donated a fence to the District of Elkford, which was erected along the Boivin Creek, behind the Community Conference Centre.
Mike Jenks and Andrew McCuaig in front of the fence Jemi Fibre recently donated to the District of Elkford.