Public comments are being accepted on a discussion paper released this week as part of a review of the annual allowable cut for the Prince George timber supply area.

The paper provides the results of an analysis that includes a base-case forecast calling for an initial harvest of 10.1 million cubic metres for 10 years, with an additional 3.2 million harvested by-catch, then declining to 6.35 million for 50 years before climbing to 9.85 million over the long term.

In 2011, the amount of timber allowed to be logged each year was reduced to 12.5 million cubic metres from its peak of 14.9 million cubic metres. That was still higher than the 9.3 million annual level before the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

In 2011, a partition was instituted in the annual allowable (AAC) cut to conserve live timber.

According to the paper, the maximum non-declining yield for the timber supply area is 6.8 million, and alternative projections show that maximizing the mid-term harvest flow by lowering the short-term harvest requires a 25-per-cent reduction from the initial harvest level.

In turn, the mid-term harvest level would increase seven per cent.

“Additionally, focusing on maximizing salvage increases the recovered volume from damaged pine-leading stands by two million cubic metres per year over the first five years, while removing the pine partition reduces the mid-term projection by seven per cent,” according to the paper.

Since 2011, the focus has been logging pine-leading stands and salvaging dead pine.

“However, this dead pine volume is increasingly dispersed throughout stands that include significant volumes of live timber,” the paper says.

“Concurrently, harvest in spruce-leading stands has increased in various parts of the TSA while spruce beetle mortality has begun to expand markedly within the Prince George Natural Resource District.

“Based on the information reported, the chief forester concluded that there is a need to re-examine the Prince George timber supply and to determine a new AAC.”

At 7.97 million hectares, the Prince George TSA is the largest in the province, with about 3.1 million hectares available for timber harvesting.

A copy of the paper can be downloaded here. Copies can also be viewed at Prince George Natural Resource District: 2000 S. Ospika Blvd.

The deadline for comments is May 24.