As the fall colours recede to bare branches, we’ve been reflective on what was overall a challenging summer and fall for the MCFC. Between difficult markets, new business challenges, and a forest fire, the commitment and determination of our members and board has been outstanding. We thank all of those who have shown support throughout the duration of the year, especially those who volunteered their time to help in firefighting efforts.
Aside from the Seven Mile Lake fire, the MCFC – similar to the entire Nova Scotia forest industry – has faced difficult timber markets over the summer. The structure we’ve been working towards, that is, hiring a contractor to complete vigilant forestry, has been nearly halted based on an inability to sell wood at fair and equitable prices. Nevertheless, we’re pushing forward.
As a pilot project, the MCFC is the guinea pig for community forestry in Nova Scotia and we need to determine the model that works best for localized resource management. A huge motivator for us today is the overwhelming support the MCFC received in the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources 5-year progress report on The Path We Share Natural Resources Strategy. The MCFC board, members, stakeholders, and staff have provided a tremendous amount of time and effort into establishing the MCFC, and the recognition from the government does not go unnoticed. We are in a tumultuous time for Nova Scotia forestry, the MCFC is a shining light and we can take this support and help foster more community governance in forestry province-wide.
The Seven-Mile Lake Fire
The Seven-Mile Lake forest fire nearly completely stalled our forest operations for the summer. It’s only now that we’ve had the time to assess the damage fully and address our next steps for salvage, reclamation, and restoration.
On Thursday, August 4th a fire was started on a forest service road off Highway 8 in the MCFC land base. Due to extreme conditions, the fire spread quickly on Friday, jumping from the west side to the east side of Highway 8. Through the weekend, the fire continued to burn out of control and reinforcements were brought in from local volunteer fire departments to help battle the blaze. At this time the area of the fire continued to grow steadily as crews worked with water bombers from New Brunswick and local helicopter crews. By Monday the fire was nearly 150 hectares in size, and hot, windy weather pushed growth nearly 45% on Tuesday, August 8. The high winds and hot weather continued on Wednesday and the fire grew steadily to nearly 400 hectares in size, burning a multi-generation Christmas tree lot adjacent to Highway 8 owned by MCFC neighbour, Danny Rowter. As the week came to a close, fire crews finally gained further control of the fire and by August 15 it was finally 100% contained. It’s expected that roughly 280 hectares of the MCFC land base were damaged to varying degrees from the fire.
Post-fire, NSDNR, and MCFC have completed soil-sampling to assess early damage to the soil. In the coming weeks, we will be clearing the fallen trees that were cut along the fire perimeter during firefighting efforts. As the fall progresses we continue to monitor the progress of regeneration to determine the next course of action. There is limited research regarding the impacts of salvage harvesting post-fire in the Acadian Forest, therefore we’re taking our time to figure out the most sustainable, innovative ways to restore the area.
For more photos, check our post on the Seven Mile Lake fire.
Old Growth Forests
The MCFC land base is diverse forest landscape in an area that possesses significant biodiversity values. Although the MCFC forest is predominately young, there are some amazing old growth stands within the area. We are currently working with the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute on their Old Forest Project to assess the quality of old growth stands in the MCFC land base. To date, the highlight has been a 10-hectare parcel adjacent to Durland Lake in the northeast portion of the MCFC land base. Highlights from this site include a nearly 200-year-old red pine and numerous of hemlocks over 275 years of age. It’s very encouraging that we are continuing to find areas such as these and we’re looking forward exploring more opportunities in ‘growing’ and sharing old growth forests.
MCFC Management Plan
The MCFC completed the final draft of our management plan which was released for public review in July. We thank all those who submitted comments and we’re looking forward to reviewing these comments with DNR. With the end of the second year of the pilot phase approaching, we’re looking ahead in negotiations for the MCFC to secure a longer-term agreement for the management of our land base. We suspect the final interim management plan will be prepared and in place by the end of this calendar year, but open to amendments for the remainder of the pilot phase.
The MCFC firewood business is coming out a very successful first year, and we will continue to take orders for processed and unprocessed wood throughout the winter. We’re looking forward to continuing our contracts with Kejimkujik Park and National Historic Site, Friends of Keji and Conway Workshop next year.
Upcoming Events and Partners
The MCFC is looking forward to hosting a lumbersports competition at Milford House in the early fall of 2017. In the early days of planning we’re seeking volunteers to assist our Outreach Committee in organizing the event. If you have any experience with lumbersports, would like to sponsor the event, or are simply hoping to get involved contact us today.