Timber tug of war
Fort Liard band angered by Metis logging

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 24/97) - The next time someone shouts "timber" in Fort Liard, they'd better have an Integrated Resource Management Plan (IRMP).

That's the view of Shane Parrish of the Fort Liard Development Corporation.

He opposes work under way by a Metis joint venture partnership -- Flet Contracting in the Liard area.

"We're against it, we feel it's irresponsible to do logging without an Integrated Resource Management Plan," says Shane Parrish.

Parrish is the band development officer for the Fort Liard Development Corporation, the business arm of the Acho Dene Koe band.

He says it's irresponsible because the joint venture company "didn't establish what the community wanted out of forestry development and how they want to see it develop, where the cuts would be and the size and scale of the project."

The Fort Liard band is not doing any logging until it completes an IRMP, says Parrish.

"We want to set up a committee that manages the area responsibly for the industry's forestry development. It's (IRMP) not a document you throw on a shelf and forget about. It's a living document dealing with all encompassing problems."

"Another concern we have around here is licensing being given to non-aboriginal and non-Northerners," he adds.

Robert McLeod is assistant deputy minister for Resources, Wildlife with the GNWT. He supervises the granting of timber licences.

He says the government of the NWT has been formulating the IRMP -- which is a half-inch thick document for the past seven or eight years now.

It's now in the second draft stage and McLeod says it's hoped it will be finalized by September.

He says the reason the joint-venture company was given a timber licence was that it was a short-term and small- scale project.

It was to be for 25,000 cubic metres and for only one year -- this harvesting season, McLeod says.

"Ideally, the IRMP should be developed and accepted by the community. It would allow us to address potential problem areas, such as multiple uses and heritage areas," he says.

Ernie McLeod is president of Metis Local 67 in Fort Liard and the deputy minister's cousin. The Metis local is 50 per cent owner and Flet Contracting is 50 per cent owner of the joint venture company -- also called Flet Contracting.

McLeod says his company has only been logging for three weeks and will be finished near the end of this month.

He says the joint-venture company run by the Metis will try for more timber licences in the future.

"I think the real reason is they (Fort Liard Development Corp.) don't have a foot in there and want to have control of everything going on here," McLeod says.

He says criticism he's heard is that the Metis Association local doesn't want to work with the Fort Liard band, but he says that's not so.

"It's too bad, because there's opportunity here for everybody," McLeod says.

The Metis logging camp employs between 10 to 12 people.

"It's 300-year-old timber, really dry, that's going to get bug worms and fall down anyway," he says.

The Metis Association in Fort Liard is fairly new and has only been operating in the area for a couple of years.

It's also involved in the coffee shop, Riverside Inn and taxi company, he says.