Forest management post wildfires, focus of Federation of BC Woodlot Associations AGM

More than 100 foresters came out of the woods to meet for two days to discuss what needs to change moving forward

Woodlot licensees, joined ministry, industry, local government and academics from around the province for the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations AGM held in Williams Lake, many seeing firsthand the impacts of the 2017 wildfires.

Organizer and federation president Brian McNaughton said more than 100 delegates attended and during a panel discussion on Saturday, there were numerous ideas advanced for necessary changes to the way public forests are managed.

“It set the stage for further discussions and the actions to need to occur,” McNaughton said. “While woodlot licenses may be a small forest tenure, many are fixed on the land base in critical areas that interface with communities and public infrastructure. This conference showed how seriously woodlot licensees take their responsibilities to manage the land and forests responsibly.”

On Friday delegates toured Fox Mountain to see where logging operations in a burned forest is being done by Williams Lake Indian Band and Tolko Industries.

In the afternoon they toured the Williams Lake Community Forest to see fire mitigation work presently underway.

Read more: Williams Lake Community Forest shareholders reap first profits

Before the Fox Mountain tour, Mike Pedersen, region executive director of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Gord Chipman, a director on the association and local woodlot manager, and Ian Meier, acting executive director of the B.C. Wildfire Service made presentations at the Tourism Discovery Centre to the delegates.

Giving a 2017 wildfire recovery update, Pedersen said multiple funding sources manifested themselves during the last two to three years, with the biggest one being the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.

“It increased the ability for us to access funds from a point of mitigation, fire prevention and fire mitigation in and around communities and out on the landscape, and also to access the utilization of fibre,” he said.

Pedersen said roughly $300 million in funding will be coming into the region during the next four years overall.

There is also the Community Resiliency Investment Program (CRIP), which is roughly about $50 million, which will be used for wildfire urban interface work in a two-kilometre width around communities, he added.

“Another big focus has been on the post-wildfire hazard risk assessments and slope stability. We hit all the high-risk areas that dealt with public safety in 2017 before winter hit and had some components in the spring, particularly out west we had to deal with,” Pedersen said, noting the same type of risk assessments are being done in 2018.

Chipman, who has been a forester in the region for 25 years, began working with woodlots and community forests, particularly Alkali Lake a decade ago.

“I’ve been involved with fires most of my life. It started as a kid growing up at Puntzi Mountain in the Chilcotin, but 2017 was a major game changer for me,” he said.

“It changed the way we behave and the way we operate. In the last year I’ve been up the Cariboo Fire Centre working with people on different initiatives and a lot of that has paid off.”

When a lightning strike hit a debris pile in the Tatla Lake community forest on May 25, 2018, and there were 30 kilometre-hour winds, a fire started, Chipman said.

“Within eight hours we had that fire completely contained, we had more than 50 people on site, and within 24 hours we had it completely under control,” Chipman said. “That was a learned response. Something we learned last year about being prepared.”

It’s a new reality, with new concepts, Chipman added.

“We are doing a lot of landscape level planning, we’re not just looking at two kilometres around a section of houses, we are looking out 50 kilometres away and looking at the likelihood of where fires are going based on wind directions and things like that.”

Read more: Unique partnership garners 2018 BC Indigenous Business Award

As the acting executive director of B.C. Wildfire Service, Meier said fire suppression costs for 2018 will be over $500 million before the year closes out.

“In the last two years we are over a $1 billion in fire suppression costs, it’s not a trend we can afford to continue on with.”

Meier said BCWS started new strategies in 2018 and will continue to bring in all stakeholders, including woodlot owners, so everyone is involved with decision making.

“At least we will be hearing all the information and making decisions on all the available information.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Brian McNaughton, president of the Federation of B.C. Woodlot Associations, left with Brianna Brochez, fourth year student in Forest Ecology at UNBC and her mom, Donna Brochez, Nadina Woodlot manager. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Tolko Industries Ltd. forester Jeff Alexander, left front, and woodlot manager Matt Lebourdais give a tour of an area on Fox mountain where burned timber harvesting has been done by the Williams Lake Indian Band and Tolko on Fox Mountain above Williams Lake. Monica Lamb-Yorski

Foresters get a close up of an area logged by the Williams Lake Indian Band and Tolko Industries.

Woodlot owners and ministry of forests personnel tour the forest.

Burns Lake area woodlot owner Alison Patch and Cariboo Woodlot Association president Ian Lanki compared notes during a tour of the burned forest on Fox Mountain.

Hugh Flinton, local forester and manager of Williams Lake Community Forest, (centre) talks about the 2017 wildfire season during the Fox Mountain tour.

The scene as one of the AGM delegates headed back to the bus shows the altered landscape impacted by the 2017 wildfires and subsequent harvesting.

Just Posted

Falcons cheerleading team makes lakecity debut

After weeks of preparation, the Lake City Falcons Cheerleading Team made its official debut

Rain a welcome sight for Williams Lake

Things are definitely greening up due to a rainy start to the May long weekend

Station House looking for artists for 2019 group show Uncover It

All pieces for this multimedia exhibit are to be based on the cover art for albums

Boaters in B.C. asked to help stop spread of invasive species

Clean Drain Dry signage is displayed at boat launches across the province

RANCH MUSINGS: Soil Biological tools to build resilience and food security

Sometimes we get world-class speakers to present to the students at Thompson Rivers University

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

B.C. residential school survivor’s indomitable human spirit centre of school play

Terrace theatre company plans to revive Nisga’a leader Larry Guno’s Bunk #7 next year

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Most Read