(Yellowknife) - The Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure has completed its review of Bill 54: An Act to Amend the Forest Management Act and finds that the Bill is not ready to proceed at this time.
Mushroom harvesting, including morel mushrooms, is part of the same renewable resources sector as the Northwest Territories’ (NWT’s) milestone forest management agreements and developing biomass industry. However, while legislation respecting territorial mushrooms is key, amendments to the Forest Management Act should not focus only on morels or be developed at the expense of these other industries.
“More work is needed to ensure that the Forest Management Act will not only meet the needs of the morel mushroom harvest, but also better address the full potential of NWT mushroom and non-timber forest products,” says Committee Chair, Robert Hawkins. “At this time, Committee is concerned that the Bill, and any proceeding regulations, may inhibit this young industry rather than bolster it.”
Public submissions received by the Committee have also highlighted the need for careful consideration of other NWT mushroom species, procedures for the harvest of non-timber forest products before timber harvest, and conservation policies that recognize ecological relationships between timber and mushrooms.
The Committee understands the Department of Environment and Natural Resources intends to proceed with this important work in the next Assembly. However, Members feel strongly that until then, the current Bill should not go ahead. The Committee also seeks to ensure that all consultation requirements, as set out in applicable land-claim and self-government agreements, are adhered to.
Reflecting on the successes of this year’s morel harvest, the Committee recognizes the contribution of several government departments. Members also commend the hard-working NWT communities, particularly in the Deh Cho and South Slave regions, who participated in the harvest and hosted many visitors throughout the summer.
The current committee consists of MLAs Robert Hawkins (Yellowknife Centre), Frederick Blake Jr. (Mackenzie Delta), Robert Bouchard (Hay River North), Bob Bromley (Weledeh), Kevin Menicoche (Nahendeh), and Michael Nadli (Deh Cho).
For further information, please contact:
Chair of the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure
Legislative Assembly of the NWT