A forestry project by two B.C. First Nations in the Central Interior continues to fight climate change and reduce wildfire risk while creating jobs.
Grants to date by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) have supported the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) in partnering with the Tsideldel First Nation (TFN) to remove 64,000 cubic metres of slash (debris from forest fires) in the region.
“The WLFN have partnered with the TFN on this unique ongoing project that is seeing slash piles turned into biomass fuel instead of burning,” Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Doug Donaldson said in a news release.
“This green-energy project is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building new economic opportunities for both communities while contributing to B.C.’s clean energy plan.”
FESBC grants between 2017 and 2019 totalling more than $3 million, allowed WLFN to build several partnerships including the one with TFN contractor, Tsi Del Del Biomass Ltd., to grind the debris at site before trucking it to Pinnacle Renewable Energy to make industrial wood pellets and Atlantic Power Corporations’s biomass generating facility in Williams Lake for “hog” fuel.
“Tsi Del Del has really appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with Williams Lake First Nation on grinding and trucking more than 1,000 piles to customers in our local fibre basket,” stated Percy Guichon, director, Tsi Del Del Enterprises Ltd., and Tŝideldel First Nation councillor.
“Working together on a business basis has resulted in benefits for both communities and created employment opportunities while making products from this biomass.”
The ongoing project has created an estimated 26 jobs for both WLFN and TFN.
“The FESBC funding has been crucial in assisting the shared mandate of reducing these outdated burning programs,” said WLFN Chief Willie Sellars adding WLFN continues to seek partners who will assist and build upon WLFN enviromental goals and objectives.
“FESBC funding allows First Nation communities such as WLFN of the Secwepemc and Tŝideldel of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, two Nations that have historically not worked together, an opportunity that will benefit both Nations and each of their companies.”
Slash from wildfire salvage logging is typically piled and burned at site because transportation is cost prohibitive.
“This project is based on community interest in avoiding burning the thousands of piles of wood waste resulting from salvage harvesting done in the 2017 fire areas,” noted FESBC operations manager Dave Conly.
“The parties came together and created fantastic results over the course of two years. I was extremely impressed by the collaboration and partnerships developed.”
Over the next two years, the total amount of slash removed will reach 200,000 cubic metres.