A map depicting where wildfires burned areas in the Cariboo Chilcotin and the woodlot licenses in proximity. Image submitted

Woodlot associations AGM to tackle wildfire impacts, prevention and risk reduction

Williams Lake will host more than 100 delegates for the annual meeting

Woodlot owners from across B.C. will converge in Williams Lake in October for an annual general meeting to focus on wildfire impacts, prevention and risk reduction.

Brian McNaughton, general manager for the Federation of B.C. Woodlot Associations, said the theme of the three-day event is “From adversity comes inspiration.”

“It is particularly fitting considering the era that we find ourselves with two record fire seasons in a row,” he said.

Three of the speakers he highlighted are B.C.’s chief forester Diane Nicholls, Jeff Mycock, chief forester for West Fraser Mills and Bob Gray — a fire ecologist with R.W. Gray Consulting Ltd.

“Bob does consulting all over B.C. and even in the northwest U.S.,” McNaughton said.

In a letter penned to all mayors and regional districts in September 2017, Gray said the wildfire season proved that forests and communities in B.C. are not resilient to wildfire and adaptation was urgently needed.

Gray called for a holistic, landscape view of the problem and transformative changes to wildfire and forest management to achieve forest and community resilience to contemporary and future wildfires.

“There will be other speakers, and are waiting for confirmation on a few more,” McNaughton added.

Over 70 people had registered by Sept. 17, and McNaughton said they are expecting by the time the AGM takes place from Oct. 12 to 14 at Signal Point Gaming Centre there should be more than 100 people in attendance.

The last time it was held in the lakecity was in 2004.

Read More: WLIB harvesting timber in 2017 wildfire areas

For the Friday, Oct. 12 session, delegates will go on a field trip to Williams Lake Indian Band to look at fire impacts and the timber salvage program there.

“We are going to look at the interaction between the wildfires and the Douglas-fir beetle. We will also visit the Williams Lake Community Forest block at Esler to view the mitigation and hazard reduction work.”

There are presently about 860 woodlot licenses across B.C.

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

“They are the smallest of our forest tenures, opposed to a license, as they are a longer agreement. Around 60 per cent of them include private land so the woodlot license holder has joined the Crown land with their private land to manage it for forests.”

Many of the woodlots actually reside in the wildland-interface area, typically close to communities, subdivisions, highways and infrastructure.

“As woodlot owners we are managing the forest for fire prevention, silviculture, forest health, wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic and recreation values,” he said. “ It’s a critical area for social license to be practiced well.”


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Cariboo resident Rod Blake stands inside an area burned in his woodlot during the 2017 wildfires. Photo submitted

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