Rodger Stewart is set to take on a new position as director of regional initiatives with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Forest resiliency focus moving forward in the Cariboo Chilcotin

Rodger Stewart as FLNRO’s new director of regional initiatives will focus on rebuilding forest resiliency after the 2017 wildfires

Creating resilient forests while recovering and rebuilding from last year’s wildfires is a challenge Rodger Stewart will face in his new position as director of regional initiatives for the ministry of forests in the Cariboo Chilcotin region.

Stewart says the plan is for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRO) to work with First Nations governments, communities, the forest sector, landholders and stakeholders to rebuild the forest estate and enhance forest resiliency.

“Having communities directly involved in the recovery of the landscape and their forests could be the silver lining in what was once a dark cloud of smoke,” Stewart said.

Earlier this month, Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) announced it is investing $134 million and that $99 million of that amount was going into the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Stewart said FLNRO will tap into some of the funding, along with many First Nations and other organizations in the region for various projects.

“The $99 million will also give us the ability to leverage for other funding,” he said.

FESBC executive director Steve Kozuki said initially the society received $85 million from the provincial government to get started in 2016 and then an additional $150 million the second year.

“We were intending to metre out $235 million over the course of time, but then the wildfires happened in 2017 and the province and the Forest Enhancement Society decided we needed to respond and assist communities to accelerate the forest recovery,” Kozuki said, noting the large proportion is going to the Cariboo Chilcotin because 90 per cent of the area burned was in the region.

Some of the money is allocated for multi-year projects, with a good portion for tree planting.

“Last fall while there was still smoke in the air in September, we did what we call spec sowing where we had the nurseries plant 11 million seedlings in the greenhouse and a year from now they will be ready for planting,” Kozuki said.

Stewart said assessments of the burnt areas will continue so that by October, the ministry will be able to develop plans for reforestation of burned areas.

Aside from replanting, the ministry will also focus on developing shaded fireguards next to communities and work to reduce forest fuels, he said.

“We have to ensure we all recognize and acknowledge why we had the fires in 2010, 2015 and 2017 and the critical importance of building wildfire resilient communities,” Stewart said.

“These big fires only stay on the minds of people for a limited period of time so it will be up to us to do a good job of being able to inform people that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Kozuki said some of the organizations receiving FESBC project funding in the latest round include the Cariboo Woodlot Association, Williams Lake Community Forest, Alexis Creek First Nation, Esk’etemc First Nation and FLNRO.

The projects range from mountain pine beetle rehabilitation, forest treatment, creation of fire breaks to wildfire risk reduction.

“We are a funding, granting organization, but all the credit goes to the people that live in the Cariboo Chilcotin carrying out the projects,” Kozuki said.

Read More: Williams Lake Community Forest focuses on fir-beetle, wildfire mitigation and education

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 case confirmed at Subway restaurant in Cache Creek

Customers who visited the site from March 25 to 27 are asked to self-isolate

CRD reminds residents to prepare for spring freshet

As temperatures warm up residents are asked to proactively address flooding issues

Geotechnical assessment slated for Soda Creek MacAlister Road slide area

The road is closed indefinitely, no residents completely cut off

Tsilhqot’in National Government declares state of emergency in all 6 communities

The move comes to protect elders and community against threat of COVID-19

CRD passes borrowing bylaw due to uncertainty with COVID-19 pandemic

‘We are not in a position that we need to borrow anything right now’: CRD CFO

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Most Read