Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s Regional Executive Director for the Cariboo Mike Pedersen (left) and Ken Vandenburgh, Director Strategic Initiatives, update the Cariboo Regional District on the ministry’s wildfire recovery plans. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Ministry of Forests shares wildfire recovery plans with CRD

Of the 5,000 kilometres of fireguard created this summer during the wildfires, 200 km has been rehabilitated

An estimated 5,000 kilometres of fireguard was built during the summer’s wildfires in the Cariboo region, including the Elephant Hill fire.

“Rehabilitation work has started and has been focused on high priority features, such as stream crossings,” Ken Vanderburgh, director of strategic initiatives, Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, told the Cariboo Regional District during a presentation Friday. “We have about 200 kilometres of fireguard that has been rehabilitated so far.”

Newly-elected CRD chair Margo Wagner said she’s heard there is fireguard in her area of Canim Lake-Forest Grove that needs to be rehabilitated because it is on a steep slope that will be impacted by spring freshet.

“Some of the problems I’ve heard is they cannot find the contractors to go do the work, is this the case throughout the Cariboo?” she asked.

The ministry’s Regional Executive Director for the Cariboo, Mike Pedersen, responded there is more work than contractors right now.

“The priorities that get identified are being dealt with first,” he said. “We had a geomorphologist fly over the area and he identified areas that we have to go after. That’s been the focus of the Cariboo Fire Centre to get out there and get that done.”

Vanderburgh said rehabilitation plans for two of the wildfires in the Cariboo region have been completed, a draft for another one is under review and the rest are in progress.

Outgoing CRD Chair Al Richmond said there is a mass amount of timber stacked on the right of way that industry wants access to.

“Not tomorrow, not two weeks from now,” Richmond said, adding companies could be there getting it on Monday. “The snow is coming. You know that and we know that, but maybe they don’t in Victoria because they get a lot of sunshine and rain.”

Richmond also asked when burned timber will be removed from areas where homes were saved, but residents are now living in “desolate” landscapes.

“They get up every morning and see the black trees. It’s a psychological issue,” Richmond said. “Are you guys going to be champions for this?”

Pedersen said some of the wood in the right of ways has been removed.

“If people want wood removed off their private property they should call either West Fraser or Tolko to see if they are interested in purchasing the wood,” Pedersen said, but noted property owners should be aware there are tax implications for selling wood on private land.

During the presentation Vanderburgh said a Range Resource Inventory and Invasive Plant Strategy is expected to begin in December and the ministry is working with First Nations to maximize their economic opportunities in wildfire recovery efforts.

Cutting permits are being expedited to address the deficit of log supply at mills and fair stumpage rates have been established, Pedersen said, adding licensee salvage operations have begun.

With files from the CRD

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Recovery planning, process and timelines for the ministry’s wildfire recovery. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

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