. Logging debate
Kakisa chief wants final say on permits

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Kakisa ( May 19/00) - Ka'a'ge Tu Chief Lloyd Chicot says logging in the Cameron Hills area will soon affect the lifestyle and livelihood of his people.

Therefore, the people should have the final say on the issuance of timber permits in the area, he added.

The Cameron Hills area is about 100 kilometres southeast of Kakisa, but at least one hunter and trapper from the community uses land not far from there, according to Chicot.

"It's going to come within 100 metres of (Tathlina) Lake, so that's a big concern," Chicot said of the logging.

More hunters are already making forays closer to the Tathlina Lake area as the cutlines open up easily passable routes, he said.

Lloyd Jones, South Slave regional superintendent with RWED, said RWED officials would be willing to meet with the band to discuss their concerns.

He added RWED is required by the Forest Management Act to consult with the interest groups each time a timber licence is issued. He said the regulatory process has become even more thorough now that a preliminary screening process can be undertaken through the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. Chicot said the GNWT is issuing permits in disregard of studies being done to examine the sustainability of current harvesting activities.

The territorial government contracted an independent Saskatoon environmental firm to begin conducting a timber supply analysis last year. That firm wanted to form a working group among the stakeholders for consultation purposes, Chicot said, but the Ka'a'ge Tu opted out because they felt they would be drowned out by the other interested parties like the town of Hay River and Enterprise.

Jones said timber permits were in effect during the winter, but they have since expired. He said he feels it's unlikely any more timber licences will be issued until the annual allowable cut, which the study will help determine, is set.

One more community consultation is scheduled to take place on the Hay River Reserve in relation to the study, he said.

Chicot, who also mentioned the Ka'a'ge Tu First Nation wants the final say on land-use permits under DIAND's jurisdiction, said he first brought the timber harvesting issue to the territorial government's attention two or three years ago.

He said he was told they would look into it further, "but they really haven't done anything to let us know what's going on."

Jones said there are two avenues -- through RWED and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act -- for the band to express their concerns.

"We're willing to meet with Kakisa," he said. "We have to work within the legislation we have."