Port Alberni’s Hupacasath First Nation has signed off on an agreement with the provincial government that compensates the tribe for the removal of private land from Tree Farm License 44.
TFL 44 lands are part of 232,000 hectares that comprise the traditional territory of the Hupacasath. The lands in question were removed in 2004.
The tribe will receive $305,000 over five years for consultation purposes.
Other provisions include an 800 hectare First Nation woodland licence at Great Central Lake, a short-term 20,000 cubic metre non-replaceable forest licence at Great Central Lake, one new woodlot tenure at Sproat Lake and an expansion of an existing Hupacasath Woodlot Licence.
The agreement will be implemented over the next three years, a press release noted.
The courts ruled in 2005 the Hupacasath weren’t accommodated by the move. The government appealed the decision and lost in 2008. Subsequent negotiations between the tribe and province took three years.
The tribe voted to accept the final agreement at a community meeting last Thursday.
“The hall was packed and people applauded after. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before,” Hupacasath CEO Robert Duncan said.
The three-year time frame allows the province to undergo an internal process to create localized areas that require special management.
The tribe will also have time to develop a recreational and sustainable tourism opportunity at Great Central Lake, which was part of the agreement. The Hupacasath will now choose two of four lots for recreational development.
The move will impact more than 40 float homes that occupy the lake illegally. “The province has issued notice to them. They’re handling that issue,” Duncan said.
The tribe’s existing 400 hectare woodlot is being expanded; 137 hectares of reserve land is being taken out and being replaced with 500 hectares in the Beaver Creek area, Duncan said.
In November 2011, the Tseshaht First Nation was also compensated for private land taken out of TFL 44. Their First Nations woodland tenure provided 40,000 cubic metres of timber split across parcels at Cataract Lake, Sproat Lake and off Ship Creek Road near Polly’s Point over 25-years.
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