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Pacheedaht and partner purchased forest licence from WFP

Western Forest Products Inc. sold the rights to harvest timber on public land on southern Vancouver Island to a company and a first nation for $2.7 million.

Forest Minister Pat Bell confirmed today he had approved a transfer of Tree Farm Licence 61 to the Pacheedaht First Nation and Canadian Overseas Group from WFP.

The Tyee reported in April, 2010, that such a deal was under negotiation.

TFL 61 was created on May 1, 2010 from parts of TFL 25, which also includes land on Haida Gwai, northern Vancouver Island and the north and central mainland coast. The new TFL covers 20,213 hectares between Port Renfrew and Jordan River and has an allowable annual cut of 108,500 metres. *

WFP's spokesperson Gary Ley said the lands were a non-core asset and the company would use the $2.7 million to pay down debt.

The deal will be good for the Pacheedaht and for Port Renfrew and goes some way to correct a government mistake, said John Horgan, the MLA for the area and an NDP leadership candidate. "I commend the government for paying attention on this."

In 2007 the government allowed WFP to remove its private lands from being managed as part of TFL 25. That removal had various problems, including that the government allowed it without consulting the Pacheedaht or other first nations and that it got nothing in return, said Horgan.

"Western is again benefiting from BC Liberal forestry decisions," he said, noting the company has been a large donor to the party.

Bell also announced today the Pacheedaht have signed an agreement with the government that would return forestry revenue from the nation's traditional territory directly to the community, expected to be worth $104,000 in its first year.

The First Nation is also discussing entering a Forest Tenure Opportunity Agreement with the province that could provide a direct award of forest tenure, the government's announcement said.

* Correction made to location, March 17, 2011.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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