Grand Council: Hands Off Burnt Timber.

The Cree message is loud and clear; forest companies can harvest our wood, but they should be patient and have the proper permits – and above all respect the tallyman.

The Grand Council of the Crees delivered the message to clarify their position on burnt wood in Eeyou Istchee and how that timber should be harvested.

The statement comes in response to a press release Sept. 27 from the Coalition for the Survival of Chibougamau and Chapais. In it, the pro-forest industry group claimed that no permits had been granted to salvage burnt wood in Eeyou Istchee.

Not so, says the Grand Council. The Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife in fact, granted two permits to do just that.

This summer’s numerous forest fires across Eeyou Istchee has caused forestry companies to apply for more temporary permits to get their hands on the damaged trees.

The Adapted Forestry Regime signed under the Paix des Braves allows for protection for Eeyou traplines.

“We have a duty to our tallymen and trappers to ensure that their traplines are protected even during these salvage operations,” said Grand Chief-elect Matthew Mukash in the press release.

“The forestry companies must realize the Cree Hunters do not view forest fires as simply lost economic opportunities. They often view these fires as an opportunity for habitat restoration. The last thing they want to see is expansive salvage dear-cuts,” he concluded.

In total, the Cree and their MNWR counterparts recommended to the minister to allow over 700,000 cubic metres of burnt wood to be harvested in the next seven months, according to the Grand Council’s press release. In the coming weeks, the Crees and MNRW will review and assess plans for a further five fires that will most likely result in similar amounts of burnt wood to be recovered.