Ootes sees forestry boom
Harvest could be upped, MLA says

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 09/99) - Though about $800,000 worth of logs are still sitting ready to be milled in Fort Resolution, one MLA is optimistic about the NWT's forestry future.

"We could easily double the annual harvest in saw logs," Yellowknife Centre MLA Jake Ootes told the legislature July 30 even though about 50,000 logs sit idle in Fort Resolution after the government's development corporation pulled the community's sawmill funding.

"The commercial harvest of saw logs in 1996-97 was about 190,000 cubic metres with a value of $21 million. It is estimated that a sustainable annual harvest of 500,000 cubic metres of spruce and pine saw logs is possible," Ootes said.

Despite Ootes' optimism, Beatrice Lepine, director of forest management with the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, says it is too early to tell whether his estimate is accurate.

"Right now we don't know," she said.

"We're in the process of a substantial inventory. It'll be four or five years before we'll have a solid inventory."

The inventory starts with aerial photos but also includes ground testing to help determine what areas should be harvested.

But even as there is uncertainty around how many trees can be cut, Ootes has support when he talks about the need for more secondary industry to provide more Northern jobs.

"Value-added industries can be developed in veneer and particle board manufacturing and furniture making," he said.

"What we need to realize is that the NWT forest industry has the potential for more than just rough lumber."