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General News · 5th August 2019
Carrie Saxifrage -CCFC
For decades, islanders have worked to create the economic opportunities of value-added woodworking for residents that come from a community forest. When timber is processed locally the benefits to the local economy increase substantially. Now that we have a community forest, this sector of the island economy is growing and we want you to see some of the successful businesses which use island wood.

Please join us on the afternoon of August 7 to learn about community forest wood as we tour a cut block, a mill and a house built with community forest wood. We will end at Saltwater Farm to enjoy refreshments, compare notes (two group will each visit a different mill and house) and discuss our successes, opportunities and challenges.

Thirty percent of the volume harvested to date has been used locally, mostly for beams, flooring, paneling and framing lumber sawn in four small mills on the island. Reflecting the present lack of efficient small log processing equipment on Cortes, the other 70% have left the island as raw logs, going mostly to BC coastal processing facilities. Harvest levels reflect the need to be financially viable while underwriting the cost of developing access into the many fragmented forested areas within our CF land base.

Bruce Ellingsen has long held the torch for the long term development of the economic opportunity presented by the community forest wood: “I anticipate that as the community forest settles in to a regular harvest pattern, entrepreneurial individuals will increasingly recognize opportunities afforded, gradually acquire appropriate equipment and get engaged in some of the various aspects of harvesting, processing or value adding of CF timber.”

These early stages of the community forest seem like a whirl of jigsaw puzzle pieces that need to come together to build the reality of a strong forest economy: artisans, builders, manufacturers, people with great product ideas, advisors with business experience, marketers, and investors in search of small scale passion projects in support of an economically resilient community. “Wood at Work” is the Cortes Community Forest Co-op’s first try at bringing people together to learn about entrepreneurial successes and challenges and to spread ideas about how our community can help residents make the most of the opportunity.

We will meet at the Mansons Hall parking lot at 2 pm and drive to a community forest cut block for a tour by Matt Cusciana. Then we will divide into two groups to visit one of two mills (Klahoose Chief Kevin Peacey’s or Aaron Ellingsen’s), and one of two houses built with community forest wood (built by Mark Lombard and Mark Braatan). We will regroup at Saltwater Farm with its hand-carved beams to enjoy Spruce Tip beverages and snacks prepared by Sujon. We hope people will attend with curiosity, looking for ways in which they might help our emerging forest economy. A $25 contribution will cover costs.

Please email or call Maureen Williams to reserve a space (limited to 30):, 250-415-0878. We will send a reminder and directions to the cut block for those arriving from Whaletown.