Fuel treatment in Fox Mountain woodlot a multiprong approach

Alkali Resource Management’s Chuck Johnson (left), Doug Johnson, Kyle Paul and Gord Chipman connect at the end of a work day on Fox Mountain where the crew has been doing fuel management work. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Peter Nilsson operates his forwarder to move piles together for grinding. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
The fuel treatment project is a collaboration with multiple parties. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
ARM crew members Rhonda Johnson, left, Casey Thomas and Doug Johnson, crew boss, work on the fuel treatment project on Fox Mountain. (Gord Chipman photo)
ARM employee Tomika Johnson prunes trees in one of the fuel management areas. (Gord Chipman photo )
ARM forestry manager Gord Chipman shows where new growth is starting. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
One of the areas crews have worked on in the woodlot. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Alkali Resource Management’s James Paul has been the foreman and site supervisor for the project. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
An example of a pile ready for grinding to be used as biomass. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Some for the pruning tools, made of trees themselves perched near the work site. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Mallory Paul is ARM’s first aid attendant. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
ARM forester and strategic planner Francis Johnson said the fuel management projects have created training and employment for many in the community. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Fuel management to reduce wildfire risks has been the focus of a collaborative project on Fox Mountain in Williams Lake.

“The whole idea is to open up the canopy to reduce the flammable fuels,” said Gord Chipman, registered professional forester and forest manager for Alkali Resources Management (ARM), one of the companies working on the project.

Chipman said the intent is to get rid of the fine fuels.

“We want to get down to about 10 tons per hectare,” he explained, noting the area crews have been working in had about 50 tons per hectare of biomass or flammable material when they began.

The area crews have targeted is Crown land and part of Woodlot 1694, where there are also non-motorized bike trails managed by the Williams Lake Cycling Club.

Marty Lauren, who manages the woodlot for his family, said the tenure is in a unique setting.

“Located on Fox Mountain, we interface with the City of Williams Lake to the south, Pine Valley to the north, the Bird Street, Ross Road, and Kemp subdivisions on Fox Mountain. Many non-motorized trails are part of the area.”

Lauren has always considered the interface areas as a fire risk and said the fuel management work completed has minimized that risk.

“The funding from Forest Enhancement Society, along with the commercial harvest component, has allowed us to complete a very comprehensive fuel management prescription that we would otherwise not have the ability to do.”

Alkali Resource Management (ARM) from Esk’et won the tender to do the hand work.

For several weeks, crews have cut with power saws, pruned trees by cutting the branches up to three metres high and placing woody debris in small piles.

The piles are then picked up by a forwarder, operated by Peter Nilsson of Nilsson Select Harvesting, and placed into larger heaps where Jared Sales of Celtic Eldorado Construction will grind the material for use as biomass at Atlantic Power Corp. in Williams Lake.

Foreman and site supervisor James Paul said it’s been an opportunity for ARM to train and teach many Esk’et community members who have been hired for the project.

“It’s such a good thing,” Paul said. “My colleague Doug Johnson worked for the Cariboo Fire Centre and has been doing this type of work for about 25 years. A lot of us fight fires in the summer.”

Working in an area where there are recreational sites, such as mountain biking trails, is new for them, he added.

“With all the rules in place we are learning. We’re so used to just cutting trees and knocking them down.”

Crews have also adjusted to COVID-19 precautions, which has meant using more vehicles to bring workers to town from Esk’et, so physical distancing can be maintained, Paul said.

Francis Johnson, a forester and strategic planner with ARM, said they are working on three different fuel management projects.

“The biggest thing that allows us to do the work is that we have a very capable work force,” Johnson said. “With the Fox Mountain project we’ve had 35 people from our community doing the work — from spacing, to the chainsaw work and piling.”

It has been a good employment opportunity and about 10 of the workers are under the age of 25, he added.

“Our youngest person on site just turned 16 so we are investing in our youth, getting them off the video games and into the work force. That’s one of the things we take pride in — to build capacity.”

Seeing his own community members not living in poverty, but living comfortably and having work is very rewarding, Johnson added.

Cariboo Woodlot Association project co-ordinator Mike Simpson said a total of $500,000 is being expended on fuel management projects on Fox Mountain and at Frost Creek. To the best of his knowledge in woodlot licences across B.C. these are some of the first projects where fuel management is happening.

“We cannot apply funding to private lands,” Simpson explained, noting the association received the funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.

Forest Enhancement BC works with PricewaterhouseCoopers — the middleman managing the money, he added.

Dave Conly, operations manager with Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., described the project as ‘pretty cool.’

“It’s complex and it has interface area right in the midst of people’s houses. It takes a lot of interaction and community support to make it successful.”

An ‘extraordinary’ amount of co-ordination has gone into the project to manage many interests, Conly said, adding he is impressed by the number of professional biologists and foresters that are involved.

“This project meets our purposes and ticked our boxes very well.”

FESBC started funding fuel management programs in the Cariboo in 2016.

There are 123 active projects in B.C. for a total of $58.5 million and about half of that work has been finished or is underway.

In the Cariboo, there are 38 projects for a total of $34.8 million. About a third of them are completed.

Read more: Approaches to forestry can help fight climate change: FESBC executive director

The aftermath of the 2017 wildfires brought into focus the high levels of forest fuel buildup around Williams Lake, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations noted in an e-mail response.

Areas such as the one underway on Fox Mountain were selected as a priority to have done due to overlap of many different values.

“This area and others have been a concern of the ministry because if a fire were to impact the site it could have severe consequences,” the spokesperson stated.

Other priority areas that have been identified through the Williams Lake and area Community Wildfire Protection Plan include South Lakeside, Dog Creek Road, Soda Creek Road and Wildwood.

There are many areas in Williams Lake and across B.C. with unnatural levels of fuel buildup that wouldn’t have happened historically.

“This high amount of fuel buildup can lead to the mega fires we have seen in recent years that devastate ecosystems causing more damage than a frequent but less intense fire would have. While the ministry is working to have as much identified areas around the town treated it will still take time to complete,” the ministry spokesperson added.

Read more: Cariboo wildfire risk management efforts dampened by COVID-19 restrictions



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First NationsWilliams Lake

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

Just Posted

CH-149 Cormorant helicopters may be part of night training exercises in the Chilcotin this month. (Canadian Armed Forces photo)
442 Transport and Rescue Squadron to hold night training in the Chilcotin

The public may see flares and search and rescue technicians parachuting to the ground

Snow is in the forecast for Williams Lake Friday, Oct. 23, which has already been falling in areas of the Chilcotin as seen here at Nimpo Lake. (Harriet Hird photo)
Ice, snow, chilly temperatures in forecast for Williams Lake area

Temperatures will dip down to -11C on Friday evening

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Motorist pulls into B.C. RCMP detachment after roadkill eagle comes back to life in minivan

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Part of the committee’s business plan is to give the “school,” officially known as the Wells-Barkerville Culture and Recreation Centre, a new name. (District of Wells)
Wells school renovation gets funding boost from mining company

Barkerville Gold Mines has put half a million dollars into the project to renovate the closed school

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

More and more electric cars are on the road, but one Chevy Bolt owner was shocked to see how much his BC Hydro bill skyrocketed once he started charging the vehicle. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Mainland man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after buying electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

Most Read