RSA Process Still Alive

By Todd Eastman,
Former Lands & Forests Manager,
NOTO

Government funding that provided licensed tourism operators access to professional consulting services when negotiating Resource Stewardship Agreements expired in the spring of 2005. Although funding support came to an end, the RSA process did not come to an end. The intention was to build enough capacity within the industry through information and educational support materials so operators could at the end of funding, effectively negotiate an agreement with the forest company or Sustainable Forest Licensee (SFL) on their own. According to the Forest Management Planning Manual, forest companies preparing forest management plans must still invite operators to negotiate RSAs.

The plans that are being developed right now by SFLs across the province for implementation in April 2008 are:

MANAGEMENT UNIT NAME MNR Lead District
Caribou Forest Sioux Lookout
Cochrane-Moose River Cochrane
Nighthawk Forest Timmins
Ogoki Forest Nipigon
Red Lake Forest Red Lake
Wabigoon Forest Dryden
White River Forest Wawa

If you have values on any of the forests listed above and have not yet been approached by the SFL to negotiate a RSA you should contact the plan author immediately. SFLs would have sent RSA invitation letters to operators known to have values on these forests this past spring. Before planning details become more finalized, it is very important that operators contact the forest company if they have not yet had initial conversations with the plan author about negotiating forest prescriptions to protect the tourism values associated with their operation. If you are unsure of the forest you are located in or who the plan author and/or forest company is you can contact the Area Forester at your local MNR district office.

Recently I received a phone call from an operator that once again highlighted the importance of getting involved in the RSA process. The call went something like “Unless we drive an additional 2.5 hours our BMA is only accessible from one access road and we just learned that tomorrow they will pull the bridge out and it won’t be back up and repaired for at least six, maybe eight weeks.” To be honest, I was somewhat stunned to receive this call as the RSA process, plain and simple, was put in place to prevent this very thing from happening.

Regardless of the type or extent of the business-to-business agreement you negotiate with the forest company, at the end of the day the RSA process is about being informed, knowing what forest operations are being proposed in proximity to all of your values, and making your concerns known well enough in advance so there is a fair opportunity to address them. Phoning the forest company the day after the feller buncher arrives to start harvesting timber beside your boat cache is too late. The RSA process is about removing the element of surprise- as you have enough to deal with during your operating season why don’t you take a half day to get in and see the plan author, learn what is being planned for the upcoming years in terms of forest operations, and negotiate some prescriptions to protect those values important to the continued success of your operation.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about forest management planning or the RSA process, please give me a call. No question is a silly one and it is likely we will both end up learning something useful in the end.


This article was taken from page 8 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Fall 2006 Issue

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