The province’s forest management strategy is causing problems for at least one former logging contractor who says it leaves private logging contractors out to dry.
A 25-year agreement between J.D. Irving Ltd. and the provincial government for the company's forest operations on Crown land was released in the New Brunswick Legislature Thursday by Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud.
The agreement states Irving's annual allocation of timber is currently 2,045,000 cubic metres, which includes 1,500,000 cubic metres of spruce, fir and jack pine, 117,000 cubic metres of white pine sawlogs and 428,000 cubic metres of hardwood.
The new agreement will see Irving's annual allocation of spruce, fir, jack pine and white pine increase to 2,027,000 cubic metres, with a minimum of 1,898,000 cubic metres of spruce, up from the current level of 1,500,000.
In the agreement, Irving said it will not displace its current purchase of wood from private wood supplies with the additional allocation of Crown wood.
Rick Murray, a forestry technician and third generation logging contractor of Penobsquis, once made a living off harvesting and selling wood.
In 2006 he gave up the business and laid off his nine workers. He headed out west to climb out of the financial hole he was in.
“It just didn't make any sense. It didn't look like there was a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “It was I thought futile to just keep beating my head against a wall and trying to make a living at it.”
Murray said when half of the provinces sawmills closed, and Crown allotments stayed the same, prices fell. That, combined with increased fuel costs forced him out of business.
He said the new forest strategy that gives extra crown land away to its licensees, and reduces protected areas, ignores 30 per cent of the land mass.
“It's not any government's, Alward's or whoever gets elected next, or was elected before, to give away our land, the public's crown land,” said Murray.