By Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A First Nation in Manitoba says it has not been properly included in sustainable forest management practices and is asking for a judicial review into commercial logging in a provincial park.
Minegoziibe Anishinabe, also known as Pine Creek First Nation, is asking Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench to quash the government’s decision to extend a timber-cutting licence to Louisiana-Pacific Canada.
“Manitoba did not consult with Pine Creek before authorizing Louisiana-Pacific to continue logging in the Duck Mountain Park forest and surrounding areas,” said Jeremy McKay, a policy analyst for the community.
The U.S.-based building company submitted a 20-year forest management plan in 2006 to obtain logging rights for an area in Duck Mountain Provincial Park near the Saskatchewan boundary.
A notice of application filed Tuesday in court alleges the province extended the current licence last month without consulting the First Nation.
Pine Creek says it wasn’t consulted on two previous extensions either.
Chief Derek Nepinak said the community is not opposed to logging in the area. But it is concerned it’s not being done in a sustainable way and wants to be included in conversations about it.
“What we believe in is sustainable forestry management. We can’t say for certain whether that’s been happening on Duck Mountain because we haven’tbeen party to the conversations,” Nepinak said during an online news conference.
“Louisiana-Pacific has never come forward and shared the detailed information about what kind of sustainable forestry initiatives they’ve put in place from year to year.”
Community leaders have brought their concerns to Louisiana-Pacific, but conversations have not netted “tangible results,” he added.
The First Nation says current practices have affected the moose population in the area as well as access to essential medicines.
“During that time we have seen a steady decline in the population … as moose have moved on into other geographies. That has impacted our ability to provide a stable food source on the tables, in the kitchens in our homes and our community,” said Nepinak.
McKay said the community raised its concerns with the province before the last extension and at that time was told there wouldn’t be a decision before the end of last year.
A few days later, authorization was granted to issue an extension until the end of 2022, but the community was unaware that had happened, the review application says.
The province said it was unable to comment as the matter is before the courts.
The company said in a statement it remains committed to working with First Nations about its operations.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship