Forest Enhancement Funding Boosts Sustainable Forest Management Efforts in Northwest B.C.

Terrace, B.C.: The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) continues to play a pivotal role in advancing sustainable forest management practices through its funding for wildfire risk reduction and fibre utilization projects across the province of British Columbia. Through funding initiatives, FESBC has been instrumental in most recently supporting three critical projects undertaken by NorthPac Forestry Group Ltd. (NorthPac). These projects have significantly enhanced forest operations while contributing to British Columbia’s carbon reduction goals.

While the three projects funded by FESBC for NorthPac are similar in nature, each has its own unique aspects. For instance, a portion of the fibre removed by NorthPac and Coast Tsimshian Resources LP (CTR) includes small-diameter tops and limbs, which were historically left in the forest. In securing funding from FESBC, NorthPac and CTR have been able to introduce a chipper in Terrace to recover significantly more wood waste material, contributing to more efficient forest management.

“Forests are at the heart of our identity in B.C., and we are all responsible for ensuring their future,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “As we work to support a strong and sustainable forest sector, FESBC has played a pivotal role in helping get more fibre that would have previously gone to waste into the hands of mills across B.C. to be processed into usable products. These initiatives help get more value out of every tree, increase wildfire resilience and lower greenhouse gas emissions, all while supporting the hard-working people and businesses that make up our forestry sector.”

Cathy Craig, CEO of NorthPac, highlighted the importance of FESBC’s support. “The Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s funding is crucial for NorthPac and our partners. Without it, we would not be able to economically move a significant portion of the wood fibre in the forest due to challenges such as the long distances to haul logs and low-value fibre. For instance, some blocks – or forest areas – consist of over 50 percent pulp, a lower-value wood fibre unsuitable for making more valuable products. The Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s financial support has helped us not leave this material behind to be burned, ensuring its more efficient utilization.”

Northwest B.C.’s forests are a testament to the region’s diversity, ranging from wetter coastal forests to drier areas more prone to wildfire. The absence of major sawmills and the limited presence of significant industry players necessitate innovative approaches to timber utilization. Local mills cannot process all the different species and log sizes in the region’s forests, resulting in a dynamic system of fibre distribution. Timber harvested in the region often follows various routes, including being supplied to local mills, transportation to the lower mainland and for export to other parts of the world.

Since partnering with FESBC, NorthPac has transported over 150,000 cubic metres of pulp logs and wood waste for utilization, significantly reducing carbon emissions that would have resulted from burning. Of the total transported material, a substantial portion of this fibre went to pulp mills in the lower mainland in the form of pulp logs and wood chips. Some of the material has gone to Drax to make wood pellets, and a small amount was used to produce squared-off logs, or cants, in Houston, B.C. Most recently, some of the wood chips were sent from Terrace to the Canfor pulp mill in Prince George via rail.

Andrew Burke, Director of Business Development with NorthPac, noted, “If this material had been burned as logging waste, it would have emitted upwards of 200,000 tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to the CO2 emissions produced by 61,273 vehicles in a year*.” 

The FESBC-funded projects have not only contributed to environmental sustainability but have also significantly benefitted the economy. Approximately 4,350 full-time equivalent days of employment have been supported, creating new job opportunities, and driving local economic growth.

Moreover, these projects are immensely important for Indigenous communities in the region.

Kelly Sampson, director of Coast Tsimshian Resources LP, noted, “The involvement of Indigenous communities in forestry projects is paramount to ensuring sustainable development and economic empowerment. Through collaboration with NorthPac and FESBC, we are strengthening our stewardship of the land while creating opportunities for meaningful participation and benefits for our people.”

Indigenous involvement and benefits are integral components of forestry operations in Northwest B.C. For example, CTR, owned by the Lax Kw’alaams Band, is the largest licensee in the Terrace area. Additionally, every road permit and cutting permit application undergoes review by the nations whose territory it overlaps, ensuring their input guides the operations.

Calvin Carlick, director of partnership and business development with the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation, said, “Tahltan Forestry recognizes the importance of responsible forestry practices on our territory. Through collaborative efforts with NorthPac and the support of FESBC, we strive to uphold our stewardship responsibilities while creating sustainable economic opportunities for our people. This partnership represents a meaningful step towards ensuring the health and vitality of our forests for generations to come.”

While the Lax Kw’alaams Band and Tahltan Nation are directly involved in the work on two of the projects, NorthPac also works directly with many of the Gitxsan Wilps (House Groups) who receive economic benefits from the logging that takes place on their Lax’yip (territories). Moreover, the Kitsumkalum are indirectly involved as the chips generated from the project are being loaded into rail cars at the Kitsumkalum rail yard.

In addition to benefiting NorthPac’s operations and some of the Indigenous communities in the region, the funding has had a positive impact on the operations of the Terrace Community Forest (TCF), as highlighted by Kim Haworth, RPF, General Manager of the community forest. Haworth noted, “The project, as I understand it, was for chipping the small diameter log that usually ended up in our burn piles. This was a desirable log for the chipping program and allowed Terrace Community Forest to increase utilization while reducing the size of our waste piles and carbon emissions by approximately 50 per cent.”

The ripple effect created through the funding has also resulted in employment opportunities for TCF’s logging crew and supervisor, contributing to local economic development. While specific numbers for employment created were not available, it was estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 150 days. Haworth further emphasized the importance of continuing such programs to further reduce wood waste, increase utilization, and create employment opportunities for the community forest.

Chris McGourlick, operations manager with FESBC, acknowledged Northpac’s initiative in fibre utilization and said, “Northpac has taken a leadership role in helping facilitate the utilization of fibre in the Skeena area. Their successful collaboration with their First Nation partners and local tenure holders is helping find new outlets to address the limited options available for low value and residual fibre. These new options help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through pile burning, provide a stabilizing influence for the local workforce and economy and maximize the utilization of our forest resources.”

As NorthPac navigates the complexities of forestry in Northwest B.C., Burke shared that an ongoing challenge was addressing more common misconceptions, especially the ones troubling recreation users. Burke believes it’s important for people to understand there are a set of higher-level plans that govern land use. These plans include the Kalum Sustainable Resource Management Plan, Kispiox Land & Resource Management Plan (LRMP), and Cassiar Iskut-Stikine LRMP, among others. There are also a few First Nations-developed Land Use Plans (LUP), such as the Gitanyow LUP that NorthPac follows.

“The important message here is that before companies even step foot in the forest to identify potential harvest areas, there are already a host of protections in place, such as Old Growth Management Areas, wildlife habitat areas, and protected scenic areas with Visual Quality Objectives,” noted Burke. This is in addition to the wonderful parks in the area that can never be harvested, such as Seven Sisters Provincial Park and Protected Area, Swan Lake / Kispiox River Provincial Park, and Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park, to name a few.”

According to Burke, it is also important for recreational users to understand the immense contributions made by forestry to the infrastructure development in B.C. through its contributions to building and maintaining the province’s extensive road and bridge network.

“Each year, we spend millions of dollars on infrastructure development and maintenance activities, such as plowing snow, grading roads, and repairing bridges. This infrastructure enables public access to recreational areas for activities like hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting. The industry’s substantial investment in infrastructure upkeep enhances public accessibility,” Burke asserted.

Today, NorthPac, which owns a licence in the Kispiox timber supply area, and jointly manages licenses owned by the Lax Kw’alaams Band, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation, and Haisla Nation (a combined annual allowable cut exceeding 1,000,000 cubic metres), remains committed to sustainable forest management and maximizing fibre utilization. This commitment is more attainable with the support of strategic funding from FESBC, despite the numerous challenges inherent to forestry operations in Northwest B.C.

* Per the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator: https://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/statistics/neud/dpa/calculator/ghg-calculator.cfm#results

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Ntityix Resources LP Enhances Wildfire Mitigation Work in West Kelowna

West Kelowna, B.C. – Given the increasing number and severity of wildfires around the Interior of British Columbia over the last couple of years,Ntityix Resources LP (Ntityix), fully owned by Westbank First Nation (WFN), has been busy working to proactively reduce wildfire risk in the West Kelowna area. With funding support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), Ntityix has successfully undertaken various initiatives around the community, specific to this wildfire mitigation work. The work itself contributes to a long-term mitigation strategy being undertaken to enhance the fuel modification zone, which will help slow down and, ideally, prevent the spread of wildfires in the area.

“The continued revitalization of cultural and prescribed fire helps to create healthy, safe and resilient forests, and I applaud Ntityix and the Westbank First Nation for continuing to take on wildfire risk reduction projects year after year, including working with the Province last year on prescribed burns,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “With support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, Ntityix’s fire prevention initiatives are better protecting the homes, businesses, and communities of West Kelowna, all while creating good, local job opportunities.”

The funding has helped Ntityix complete wildfire risk reduction projects, treating around 300 hectares around the communities of West Kelowna and Peachland in the Okanagan Region over the past ten or so years. This work has far-reaching impacts on not just reducing the risk of wildfire to these communities but by way of employment opportunities, building capacity within Ntityix with both fire mitigation and suppression activities, and developing confidence to re-introduce fire to the ecosystem through prescribed burns.

“Ntityix Resources LP and the Westbank First Nation believe the residents within the communities of West Kelowna and Peachland are supremely grateful for the funding provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC to carry out this work in the past and now into the future,” expressed Jordan Coble, Councillor with WFN and President of Ntityix.

Some of the wildfire risk reduction projects have included various approaches incorporating hand treatments, especially in delicate areas near residential backyards, as well as selective harvesting practices, which involve forest workers removing smaller trees while preserving larger ones.

“FESBC appreciates the leadership shown by Ntityix and the Westbank First Nation in reducing the wildfire risk to the residents located in and near West Kelowna and Peachland,” said Gord Pratt, senior manager with FESBC. “We are glad our funding can assist Ntityix in completing this important work in collaboration with all the other FireSmart activities being done by these communities.”

Last year, with the help of BC Wildfire Services (BCWS), Ntityix conducted their first cultural prescribed burn in an area just east of Kelowna. The burn was focused on grasslands and some open forests that had not had a fire go through the area in several decades. The prescribed burn helped to reinvigorate the grassland area and reduce the amount of surface fuels, or excess wood and debris, in the open forest area.

“In Fall 2024, with the help of BC Wildfire Service, we are planning a post-harvest controlled burn on areas where we have recently completed some harvesting work,” explained Dave Gill, RPF and general manager of forestry at Ntityix. “This will be a more ‘surgical’ burn versus the broadcast, or more widespread, burning of the past. This work will reduce surface fuels in areas that are within 5 kilometres of the community.”

Ntityix has also started to conduct fuel mitigation at the landscape level by identifying fuel management corridors across the landscape within WFN forest tenures to conduct fuel modification treatments.

“West Kelowna Fire Rescue, the City of West Kelowna, and Westbank First Nation are grateful for the ongoing funding provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC. I look forward to continuing to be involved and offer the ongoing support of our Fire Rescue team to participate in future projects,” added West Kelowna Fire Chief, Jason Brolund.

This proactive mitigation work provides local contractors and WFN members employment opportunities within the forest industry to help with good forest management. Ntityix has been able to build a permanent work crew based out of West Kelowna who work year-round on fuel mitigation, pre-commercial thinning, pruning, and wildfire suppression projects.

“Our forestry crew consists of permanent positions with full benefits, vacation time, and personal days. They have career goals, undergo cross-training with other aspects of our business, and some are considering furthering their education in forestry or taking on new roles within our company,” said Gill. “The funding also enables us to recruit Westbank First Nation community members who may be curious about entering a career in forestry, exposing them to other aspects of our work, and providing them with a full-time income as they start their career.”

Last summer, the MacDougall Creek wildfire tested the effectiveness of some of the wildfire risk reduction work undertaken by Ntityix in 2015. The extensive 13,500-hectare wildfire, with 8,000 hectares falling within WFN’s Community Forest, underscored the invaluable benefits of prior fire mitigation work in the area. While it is challenging to precisely measure the impact of these efforts on the fire’s size, it is evident that they played a crucial role in safeguarding residential areas, highlighting the collective responsibility in mitigating wildfire risks.

“Last summer’s wildfires showed that fuel mitigation on Crown land adjacent to communities is only one piece of the puzzle. Crews shared that because of this work, they could fight the fire on the ground and didn’t have to leave when the fire approached. They also noted a need for FireSmart work where homeowners take precautionary steps to reduce wildfire risk to their homes and properties and use appropriate fire-resistant landscaping,” expressed Gill. “Wildfire risk reduction requires the involvement of all levels of government, First Nations, affected stakeholders, and home/property owners have a very important role to play in this as well.”

Through FireSmart, private landowners who live in proximity to forested land can take ownership of preparing and maintaining their homes and properties to decrease the risk of damage due to wildfire. Additionally, when the public is out in forested areas for recreation, they need to be aware of fire hazards, campfire bans, and participating in activities such as motorized recreation or cutting firewood.

“West Kelowna sits at the centre of wildfire risk and response in the province of British Columbia. Over the past number of years, we have learned we can reduce the damage from wildfires through wildfire mitigation work we can do and the adoption of the FireSmart principles by the public,” emphasized Brolund. “We are fortunate to have great partners at Westbank First Nation and Ntityix Resources LP who are committed to taking care of their community forest which surrounds our community of West Kelowna.”

In the long term, Gill shared that more emphasis must be placed on good forest management practices in fire-dominated ecosystems at the landscape level to address the buildup of surface fuels and the density of forests.

“The work we are doing is time-consuming and expensive, and without ongoing funding from FESBC, much of this work would not have been done, and likely many more homes would have been lost to wildfires,” said Gill. “We intend to expand the areas we’ve treated outwards and away from the communities to provide for a wider buffer between the community and the untreated forest. Ongoing and future funding from FESBC will be critical to allow for this ring of protection to be expanded, maintained, and re-enforced in the longer term.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Osoyoos Indian Band and Mercer Celgar Work Together to Enhance the Use of “Waste Wood”

Oliver, B.C. – Aligning with the provincial government’s goal to decrease the burning of slash piles and increase the utilization of wood fibre that has traditionally been wasted, the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) and Mercer Celgar (Celgar) are collaborating to rethink conventional practices. With funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), the collaboration is helping recover as much uneconomical residual fibre as possible from the OIB’s traditional territory.

This collaborative project is a strategic effort to capture all low value fibre that typically wouldn’t make its way to sawmills and was not economically feasible for non-sawlog products. For example, some of the fibre captured through this project will produce wood chips, and the material not suitable as chips will be used in a product called hog fuel, which will be used to generate electricity. Some of the residual fibre will be chipped in Midway and then sent to the Mercer pulp mill in Castlegar. 

“Initiatives like this help ensure the long-term health of B.C.’s forestry sector, and the families and communities it supports,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “By making paper and wood chips from trees that previously would have gone to waste or acted as wildfire fuel, the Osoyoos Indian Band and Mercer Celgar are helping get more value out of every tree harvested while also making our forests more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

The project’s primary goal is to promote diversification and innovation within the supply chain to utilize uneconomical fibre that would typically go unused. By doing so, the collaboration seeks to reduce emissions from slash pile burning, normalize the higher levels of residual fibre utilization, and strengthen reconciliation efforts through collaboration.

Mills have long been adept at utilizing various types of residual fibres to create different products, but this project takes things a step further. To maximize fibre utilization, funding from FESBC is incentivizing tenure holders, excluding BC Timber Sales, and contractors to now consider forest stands that were historically deemed economically unviable to harvest. Celgar and the OIB are looking to examine the difference in cost between harvesting and selling pulp logs – a lower-value log that generally can only be used to create pulp for various products, including paper, tissue, and food packaging and to determine how operations can be modified to bridge the divide. By working together, they’re developing a cost model to help address the recovery of uneconomic fibre, ensuring this wood can be delivered to non-sawlog facilities, in essence, making sure it doesn’t go to waste.

According to Chris Longmore, Manager, Fibre Procurement, with Celgar, FESBC funding has gone towards utilization and rehabilitation from at least seven wildfire-impacted areas spread across the Arrow, Boundary, Okanagan, Kootenay, Revelstoke, and Golden timber supply areas, including the Octopus Creek wildfire which burned more than 22,000 hectares of forest and the Michaud Creek fire, which burned over 14,000 hectares of forest. To date, over 26,000 cubic metres of burnt logging residue has been recovered, loaded on a logging truck, and shipped to the Mercer Celgar facility in Castlegar rather than into a waste pile. That volume will continue to grow in 2024 as efforts continue to focus on utilizing fibre from burnt stands fibre.

“The financial support from FESBC has played a crucial role in bringing together project partners, particularly First Nations, to embark on this transformative journey. This funding highlights the importance of collective efforts in redefining forest management practices and sets the stage for a more sustainable future,” said Longmore.

The collaboration between Celgar and OIB with FESBC funding is helping to raise the bar for higher levels of fibre utilization, mitigating the impacts of climate change by reducing emissions from slash burning      and working in collaboration with First Nations.

According to FESBC Operations Manager Brian Watson, “This program not only provides opportunities for the logging community that is supplying the logs to the Celgar pulp mill, logs that would be burned, but the program is meaningfully reducing carbon emissions associated with the changed behaviour. By creating a wood product, approximately 64,000 tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere will be avoided. This is the same emissions that 13,800 mid-sized vehicles would produce in 1 year.”

Revelstoke has seen a direct benefit, with $230,000 coming into the community as payment for the use of the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation log yard for this project. Many other communities in the southern interior are also indirectly receiving an infusion into their economy from this project through the logging community and the businesses that service them.

Currently, the project is 65 per cent complete, and even upon completion, according to Longmore, Celgar will continue to maximize the recovery and utilization of uneconomical fibre while reducing carbon emissions via collaboration with land tenure holders and their logging workforce in the southern interior. This change in culture to continue to pursue full forest utilization sets the stage for a lasting positive impact for both the forest industry and the environment.

Dan Macmaster, Forest Manager at the OIB, highlighted the significance of sustainable resource use for the OIB, stating, “Fibre utilization through proper forest management results in less burning of debris piles, cleaner air and waterways, and financial benefits from processing pulp volume that would normally be left behind. FESBC has provided the funding to help local contractors haul this volume over long distances to the Celgar mill, creating jobs, incentivizing fuel mitigation projects, and adding value to pulp fibre that would otherwise be burned.”

As the project aims to haul approximately 128,000 m3 by March 31, 2024, efforts will continue well into the future to maximize the recovery and utilization of uneconomical fibre.

“Managing the larger landscape for wildfire risk reduction, climate change adaptations, and mitigating insect infestations is critical to the OIB,” shared Macmaster. “This FESBC project has provided the means to meet numerous management objectives on our traditional lands.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Skeetchestn Indian Band partners with industry to make better use of slash, as featured in CFJC TV Kamloops

The Skeetchestn Indian Band (SIB), through Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corporation (SNRC), is taking the lead to deliver on sustainable forestry practices with a practical approach to the enhanced utilization of low-value wood waste. In a collaborative effort with funding support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) and operations expertise by Arrow Transportation Systems Inc., SNRC is showing the forestry sector the value of using every part of the tree in its operations.

The story of how the Band is partnering with various industry partners has been covered by CFJC TV Kamloops.

Read the story and watch the video here: https://cfjctoday.com/2024/01/31/skeetchestn-indian-band-partners-with-industry-to-make-better-use-of-slash/

A Local Interior First Nation Takes the Lead to Add Value to Low-Value Wood Fibre

Skeetchestn Indian Band and Industry Partners Working Together

Kamloops, B.C. – Within the vast landscape of British Columbia, an Interior First Nation is taking the lead to demonstrate the importance of forest rehabilitation and utilization aligned with First Nation values at the forefront. The Skeetchestn Indian Band (SIB), through Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corporation (SNRC), is taking the lead to deliver on sustainable forestry practices with a practical approach to the enhanced utilization of low-value wood waste. In a collaborative effort with funding support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) and operations expertise by Arrow Transportation Systems Inc. (Arrow), SNRC is showing the forestry sector the value of using every part of the tree in its operations.

Utilizing waste wood instead of pile burning it, thus reducing carbon emissions. Photo credit: Arrow.

Kúkpi7 Darrell Draney of the Skeetchestn Indian Band noted how the project aligns with the values of Indigenous Peoples. “For thousands of years, First Nations sought to discover ways to live with the land as equals. Skeetchestn sees this project as a successful way to uphold this long-held practice. We’ve always known and acknowledged that our relationship with the land is reciprocal. This land does not belong to us – we belong to the land.”

The SNRC-led project showcases a practical solution for the economic utilization of slash piles typically left after harvesting and burned. As a part of this project, Arrow successfully ground over 25,000 cubic metres of fire-affected wood, which is equivalent to over 450 truckloads of wood fibre, working closely with First Nation members, local woodlot owners, and ranchers to ensure project success.

“I applaud the Skeetchestn Indian Band, Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corporation, and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC for their leadership in reducing forest waste in B.C.’s forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minster of Forests. “Projects like this help conserve vital ecosystems, increase wildfire resilience, lower greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting the people and businesses that make up this vital and thriving community.”

According to Greg Kilba, Division Manager with Arrow, the collaboration with the SNRC, Kruger, woodlot owners, local ranchers, government entities, industry partners, and FESBC has proven necessary to ensure projects of this nature are economically viable. The collective effort has not only generated well-paying employment opportunities for local people but has also established a more sustainable source of green energy by repurposing the slash piles.

“The convergence of these diverse collaborators with a shared objective to optimize the utilization of waste wood has fundamentally changed how forest managers look at slash piles, emphasizing a more resourceful approach,” noted Kilba, adding that Arrow’s values are closely aligned with those of SIB to foster a relationship built on shared principles of environmental stewardship, sustainable resource management, and community well-being.

Kilba also noted that both Arrow and the SNRC prioritize responsible forest practices, recognizing the importance of preserving ecosystems and respecting Indigenous values.

“The alignment of these values establishes a strong foundation for collaboration, ensuring Arrow’s operations are conducted in harmony with the Skeetchestn Indian Band’s cultural and environmental priorities. The funding provided by FESBC plays a crucial role in helping facilitate this alignment. By supporting projects that prioritize sustainable forestry, wildlife habitat restoration, and reduce wildfire risk, FESBC funding has enabled both Arrow and the Skeetchestn Indian Band to work together effectively, promoting shared values and contributing to the overall ecological health of the region.”   

Bringing the project together was not without its challenges, noted Mike Anderson, advisor and negotiator for SNRC. The SIB has advocated for years, insisting that the wood ‘waste’ be fully utilized. Their persistence was rewarded when the Provincial government agreed to help support the needs of the pulpwood industry, ensuring they were in alignment with the government’s legislation and policy around waste removal.

Gord Pratt, FESBC’s senior manager, said, “This project is proudly supported by FESBC. With Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corporation working collaboratively with Arrow and Kruger, we are seeing multiple benefits, including increased fibre utilization and improved wildlife habitat, resulting in healthier forest stands for everyone who values our forests across B.C.”

The SIB sees the project and its success as important for a couple of reasons. First, they don’t want to see wood fibre within their territory wasted or contributing to air pollution by being burned. Second, they are of the belief that if a tree is harvested, it should be fully utilized either on-site as a sawlog and wood chips or remain in the forest to contribute to wildlife habitat and soil-building processes. Skeetchestn band members recognize trees as their relatives, and as such, it is disrespectful to not utilize the full tree.

“There is still work to be done to help us more quickly and efficiently facilitate the utilization of wood fibre in our Territory,” said Anderson. “This project is a good start.”

The project area is located near Leighton Lake and Tunkwa Lake, where the low-value wood fibre was hauled to the Kruger pulp mill in Kamloops. For Kruger, this project is important as they are interested in continuing to work with First Nations through partnerships and believe that by working together, they can be part of the solution to reduce the wildfire hazard and produce value-added products such as the fibre from this project is utilized in their boiler system to create green energy.

“This whole operation was thought to be economically infeasible until FESBC got involved. However, once FESBC came to the table with their resources, we were able to make the project move ahead, and we ended up utilizing a lot of otherwise waste material,” said Anderson. “We are pleased to see something that was originally thought to be infeasible work out quite well for everyone involved, and we have respectfully utilized the bulk of all the trees that were sacrificed.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

FESBC Board Chair Dave Peterson to Address Urgent Wildfire Concerns at the Truck Loggers Association Convention and the Role of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC

In a bid to highlight and address the challenges posed by escalating wildfire frequency in British Columbia, Dave Peterson, Board Chair of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), will be part of a distinguished panel at the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) Convention held in Vancouver from January 17 to 19. The panel will explore the crucial question: “With B.C.’s escalating wildfire frequency in recent years, is it imperative to ask if we can be doing better at risk mitigating and identify the requirements to make that happen?”

Graphic Credit: Truck Loggers Association LinkedIn

Expressing his anticipation for the event, Peterson emphasized the urgency of reassessing and enhancing current wildfire management strategies.

“I am very thankful that the Truck Loggers Association chose to include this panel and topic in the agenda for their annual convention; the urgency of improving our wildfire risk reduction strategies can not be overstated, and this platform provides an excellent opportunity to deliver that message to a wide audience. I am also very thankful that the TLA chose to include me, representing the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, in this panel,” said Peterson.

With a robust career that has included serving as the Chief Forester for the Province of BC and as the President of the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturer’s Association, as well as holding several other senior positions in the forest industry, Peterson brings a wealth of practical experience and industry knowledge to the discussion. Given Peterson’s extensive and distinguished background in forestry, his perspectives during the TLA panel discussion will offer a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand through the lens of a forestry professional steeped in forestry.

During the panel discussion, Peterson will provide a comprehensive overview of the FESBC’s pivotal role in addressing the escalating wildfire crisis. Known for its commitment to projects focused on wildfire risk reduction and fibre utilization by incorporating sustainable practices, FESBC has been at the forefront of funding projects throughout the province that manage the changing dynamics of wildfires. Peterson will share more about FESBC’s funded projects, exploring an overall potential for improvement and adaptation in the face of evolving challenges posed by climate change.

“I am very proud of the key, unique role that FESBC plays in wildfire risk reduction and believe it is important to communicate that role more broadly. My focus will be on describing the unique role of FESBC in risk reduction and its critical importance in helping B.C. pave the way for a more resilient and sustainable future in the midst of changing climate dynamics and human interaction with our forests,” Peterson added.

Peterson will also be highlighting FESBC’s ongoing efforts to navigate the intricate relationship between climate change, fire intensity, and the evolving human connection with forests. The society is strategically positioned to continue to play a crucial role in raising awareness while funding projects that work to address some of the causes of escalating wildfire incidents in the province.

Visit the FESBC website to get more insights into the work being done by FESBC and its project partners: www.fesbc.ca

Responding to the Climate Crisis in BC’s Forests in BC Forest Professional Magazine

In the winter issue of the BC Forest Professionals magazine, Colin Mahony, PhD, RPF, a BC Ministry of Forests Research Climatologist and Team Lead of the Future Forest Ecosystems Centre (FFEC*), has shared an opinion piece as part of a series on climate change and forestry. The first article in this series by FESBC Operations Manager, Brian Watson, was published in the Fall edition, titled “A practical case for utilizing low value fibre derived from logging”.

In the Winter Issue, Mahoney writes on how he sees a clear message for forest professionals: there is some level of climate heating where the impacts become overwhelming and adaptation measures fall apart, and we work on adaptation, we must also advocate for the conditions under which adaptation is possible — a stable climate.

He writes, “BC’s forest professionals are emerging as leaders in climate change adaptation. We also need to be leaders in securing the conditions
under which adaptation is possible.”

*The FFEC is a new scientific team in the Office of the Chief Forester that is focused on forecasting climate change impacts on BC’s forest ecosystems and their multiple values.

A First Nations-Owned Company’s Focus on Forest Rehabilitation through Wildfire Risk Reduction and Fibre Utilization

Williams Lake, B.C. – Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation Ltd. (CCR), a First Nations-owned and operated company, has been making significant strides in the forest industry through their participation in wildfire risk reduction, stand rehabilitation and fibre utilization projects. CCR is a joint venture between the Tŝideldel First Nation and Tl’etinqox Government, both Tsilhqot’in Nation communities, dedicated to safeguarding the land through traditional Indigenous practices. Over the past few years, CCR has received vital support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), including recently announced funding for three fibre utilization and wildfire risk reduction projects.

These newly funded projects come as a result of the $50 million given to FESBC earlier this year by the Ministry of Forests aimed at increasing the use of low-value or residual fibre including trees damaged by recent wildfires and waste left on site after logging that would otherwise be burned.

“These projects will help keep communities safer from wildfire, create new jobs and provide much needed fibre for mills and bio-energy plants,” said Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston. “Better fibre utilization, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the spread of wildfires makes a real impact on improving the lives of First Nations, rural communities and forestry workers throughout B.C. Thank you to FESBC for leading the way on these vital programs.”

One of the projects CCR received funding for allows for the full utilization of trees and harvesting debris including tree tops originating from stands of dead trees killed by the mountain pine beetle years ago. This low value fibre will be hauled to facilities to turn into different products like electricity, pulp, and pellets instead of piling wood debris in slash piles and burning. The recovered fibre will help support the Cariboo pulp mill in Quesnel and the Drax pellet plant and Atlantic Power facility in Williams Lake.

Frankie Nelson, Business Manager of Atlantic Power, noted, “Historically, the Atlantic Power plant has almost exclusively consumed wood residues from local sawmills. The impact of the mountain pine beetle infestation, the area wildfires over the past few years, the reduction in the timber harvest, and the increased competition for fibre have reduced the availability of mill residues. Without a stable fuel supply, Williams Lake is at risk of losing its largest taxpayer, along with quality jobs and a local outlet for wood waste from area mills that aids in their competitiveness. CCR has been instrumental in sourcing and delivering an otherwise uneconomic fuel — roadside logging debris in part with FESBC. We have been able to not only create new jobs and procure a much-needed new fuel supply, but we are now utilizing a product that would otherwise be open-burned, and instead, we are turning wood waste into green energy.”

Through this utilization, CCR is making a meaningful contribution to the forest industries Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction efforts. Using 50 m3 of wood at the energy plant that would normally be slated for burning is equivalent to removing 1.8 medium sized vehicles off the road for one year.

“Over the last four years, close to one million cubic metres of fibre has been recovered in our region, and much of the recovery work was supported with funding from FESBC’s fibre utilization program. If not recovered, this fibre – which is equivalent to over 10,000 logging trucks of fibre – would either have been left behind and increased fuel for wildfires or burned in slash piles. Recovering the fibre results in both reduced wildfire risk and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Percy Guichon, executive director of CCR and councillor with Tŝideldel First Nation.

In another FESBC-funded project, the CCR team will work to rehabilitate the forests devastated by the Elephant Hill fire in 2017. By removing fire-damaged timber and fibre and transporting it to local facilities such as the Drax pellet plant and Atlantic Power Corporation in Williams Lake, and the Kruger pulp mill in Kamloops, CCR will be providing a safe working environment for planters who will reforest the area. According to Philippe Theriault, general manager of Tŝideldel Enterprises, “FESBC’s support has enabled us to maximize fibre utilization through innovative projects, not only reducing CO2e emissions from traditional slash-pile burning but also sustaining jobs in the pulp, pellet, and energy industries. This partnership exemplifies that positive outcomes are possible when organizations collaborate for the greater good of our forests and the rural communities they sustain.”

Apart from the work on fibre utilization, CCR has continued to improve wildfire resilience and reduce wildfire risk to the surrounding rural communities. An example is an upcoming project where CCR will work on a landscape-level fuel break adjacent to the Tl’etinqox reserve, Alexis Creek, and a significant portion of Highway 20, with FESBC funding. FESBC Senior Manager, Gord Pratt said, “FESBC is proud to work with CCR, who is a leader in taking the initiative to reduce the wildfire risk to many communities and increasing the utilization of fibre that for many years went to waste in smoke.”

CCR has completed over 40 kilometres of fuel breaks, where trees in planned landscape fuel breaks were carefully thinned or removed to reduce the fuels that would be contributing to potential fast-spreading wildfires, protecting First Nation communities and neighbouring communities of the Chilcotin. These fuel breaks involve a wide range of undertakings, surrounding hand treatments, fuel removal, spacing, and advanced silviculture, synchronized in a manner to reduce the wildfire risk while creating a resilient forest stand for the future. The complexity and challenge of these projects create wide employment opportunities, which helps support families that live on their traditional land base, something Tŝideldel and Tl’etinqox both completely support.

“As a professional forester deeply committed to First Nation-led Forest management, I am grateful to the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia and the Province of British Columbia. Their unwavering financial support for the past five years has been instrumental in the success of CCR. Together, we’ve achieved significant milestones in site rehabilitation, fire hazard reduction, and the construction of vital fire breaks around the Tŝideldel First Nation and Tl’etinqox Government communities,” said Theriault.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Fibre recovery and bioenergy projects make communities safer, writes the Wood Pellet Association of Canada in Canadian Biomass Magazine

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is funding 61 projects in communities throughout the province in 2023 that include 19 projects, announced November 30, which are supported by funding from the Province of British Columbia. These projects will reduce wildfire risk, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and provide recovered fibre to mills and bioenergy facilities.

“Improving utilization of wood fibre is a win for people and our forests,” emphasizes Gordon Murray, Executive Director, Wood Pellet Association of Canada. “These projects support the conversion of what was once considered waste into wood pellets, creating jobs, heating and powering Canadian homes and businesses, reducing wildfire risk, and contributing to global climate goals by displacing fossil fuels and advancing new technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.”

Wood pellets play a key role in helping communities create robust, sustainable economies while addressing the challenges of balancing economic development with conservation and community values, with safety at the forefront.

FESBC supported projects are often aimed at helping communities remove excess fibre from forests for two reasons. It reduces fuel for potential wildfires and helps provide the raw materials needed to make bio-products and bioenergy. Given that most of the recovered fibre would otherwise be burned in slash piles (waste from forestry activity), FESBC projects are also helping BC reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By maximizing the value of every tree harvested, Canadian wood pellet manufacturers are supporting the sustainable use of our forest resources as well as maximizing jobs and opportunities in communities across the country.

At the announcement in Victoria, Minister of Forests, Bruce Ralston, added, “Through a $50 million grant this year from the province, FESBC and their project partners are making significant progress to enhance forest resiliency to wildfire and climate change for the lasting benefit of British Columbians.”

How the Province’s Largest Community Forest is Building Community Resilience to Wildfire in Rural B.C.

Fort Nelson, B.C. – In a bid to safeguard their community from the escalating threat of wildfires, British Columbia’s largest community forest is proactively undertaking wildfire risk reduction work with support from Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding. The Fort Nelson Community Forest Fuel Treatment Project, set against the backdrop of remote wilderness, is a testament to the power of collaboration and determination and represents a remarkable opportunity for growth, local capacity building, and economic empowerment.

In a collaborative move, the Fort Nelson Community Forest (FNCF) was formed when the largest community forest license in the province was awarded to the Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) partnership. The partnership between the FNFN and NRRM represents not only the largest community forest license in British Columbia but also yields the most substantial harvestable volume. Considering the remote and expansiveness of the area covered by the license, this means there is a tremendous responsibility for the FNCF, one which they are prepared to undertake.

“The Fort Nelson Community Forest, like others throughout B.C., supports long-term opportunities and contributes to a more diversified forest economy,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “As the keepers of B.C.’s biggest community forest, it’s great to see the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and the Fort Nelson First Nation collaborate on this project to better protect their homes, schools, businesses and the surrounding forests that are the lifeblood of their remote communities.”

The FESBC-funded FNCF Fuel Treatment Project is set to address a 20-hectare expanse of forest,  roughly the size of 37 football fields, along the southwest side of the Alaska Highway. By creating a shaded fuel break using mechanical treatments, which means clearing and reducing the growth of plants and trees in the area using machines or equipment, the project aims to slow wildfire spread, enhance suppression efforts and firefighter safety, reduce the risk of a wildfire spreading up into the crown or tops of trees, and maintain vital evacuation routes for public safety, such as Highway 97.

Acknowledging the importance of funding and support, the FNCF highlighted the significance of FESBC funding to help develop their capacity, particularly as they continue to establish themselves.

Katherine Wolfenden, the board chair of the FNFC, said, “Our community forest partnership is excited to have been selected for funding from FESBC. This project will help the local community have more control over where and how firebreaks and selective reduction of high-risk areas occur next to the community. As a new and developing community forest, this project is helping us implement one of our guiding management goals to support and invest in community wildfire prevention initiatives.”

Echoing Wolfenden’s statement, Ben Wall, the general manager of the FNCF, also noted the importance of FESBC funding.

“Adequate funding and support are essential to the success of the community forest. Funding is required to continue the research, planning, and monitoring of the forest, the use of qualified and experienced professionals as well as continuing to promote local engagement. The FESBC funding is of the utmost importance for this project as it will help us develop capacity. With the Fort Nelson Community Forest still working on getting firmly established and viable, help with funding like this is critical,” said Wall.

This project, however, means so much more to the community and the forest than simply reducing wildfire risk. The collaboration between the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, Fort Nelson First Nation, and other stakeholders will promote forest sustainability through wildlife habitat preservation, timber harvesting, wildfire mitigation efforts, and recreational opportunities. 

FESBC Senior Manager Gord Pratt said, “FESBC is excited to be able to support the Fort Nelson Community Forest early in their existence on such an important project reducing the local wildfire risk to the community, improving wildlife habitat and building local capacity in the forest sector.”

According to Matt Pilszek, RFT, Forestry and Construction Manager with Geoterra, the fuel mitigation project will have wildlife enhancement objectives in mind throughout the treatment, with a specific focus on protecting and enhancing the Boreal caribou ungulate winter range. The fuel mitigation treatment will reduce the accumulation of flammable vegetation and deadwood, which helps reduce the risk of large, destructive wildfires detrimental to wildlife habitat. Preserving the winter range from being impacted by wildfires ensures that caribou and other ungulates have access to the habitat they need during the critical winter months.

“Fuel mitigation through selective thinning of trees can help preserve and restore the natural vegetation and forest structure within the Boreal caribou ungulate winter range. This is important because these animals rely on specific types of vegetation for food and shelter during the winter. Selective thinning techniques can promote the growth of new vegetation in the understory (the layer of vegetation that grows beneath the forest canopy, consisting of smaller plants, shrubs, and young trees) while maintaining habitat connectivity within the landscape,” said Pilszek.

The fuel mitigation project will also support the Fort Nelson community by building local capacity and contributing to the region’s economy through job creation, community involvement, revenue generation, increased resilience to wildfires, and sustainable resource management. The fuel mitigation project will utilize local businesses, including forestry contractors, equipment operators, local First Nations land guardians, and service providers, which will stimulate the local economy and provide more work to these contractors.

“The selective thinning process will provide sustainable forest management to ensure that local forest resources are managed in a way that provides economic benefits while preserving the environment for future generations in Fort Nelson,” said Wall. Prior to the commencement of the fuel mitigation project, the FNCF actively engaged with the local community. They hosted an open house and secured approval from the FNFN through the Land Management Framework, a plan for how to use and take care of the land.

According to Wall and Pilszek, as this project gets underway, the community forest is planning to host another open house to get feedback from the community to understand if there is a desire to expand this type of treatment to other areas around the community.

“Often, the main concern about a project like this is there can be resistance and disagreement with what is being implemented and how it is being done. However, the community forest has engaged with all stakeholders within and around the project in a way that avoids interruptions. The snowmobile club, for example, has been very supportive and flexible in our discussions, and we have worked on a plan to mitigate any impact we might have on their activities. We intend to improve trail access in whatever way we can as we continue to work on this project and others in the future,” added Wall.

The FNCF is working with the local forest industry to grow the forest industry in Fort Nelson.  As harvesting activity increases, the FNCF will be  better positioned to self-fund projects. For example, the community forest harvested a significant amount of wood in 2021, approximately 30,000 cubic metres of wood, which is roughly equivalent to filling 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. They anticipate harvesting approximately 23,000 cubic metres during the 2023 winter harvest.

In addition to harvesting, the community forest is focused on a comprehensive and holistic land management plan and is working toward reforestation in identified areas.

“Last year, Geoterra supervised the Fort Nelson Community Forest Tree Planting Program, exceeding minimum quality standards by planting 226,440 trees. Planting densities adhered to wildfire guidelines, with 1,600 stems, or trees, per hectare outside the Wildland Urban Interface (a zone where human development and natural landscapes come into contact) and 800 stems per hectare within the Wildland Urban Interface,” said Pilszek.

The community forest recognizes a need to build capacity significantly to maximize the forest value to the partner communities. They are currently developing projects that have a higher percentage of merchantable timber that can be used to offset the costs of the work, and the hope is to be able to self-fund forest management activities from the sale of the lumber and wood fibre to a small local manufacturing entity in the future.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

FESBC promotes safe communities, creates jobs, supports forest industry

Forestry workers, First Nations and mills are getting to work on Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC)-supported projects that reduce wildfire risk, lower greenhouse gas emissions and provide recovered fibre to mills and bioenergy facilities.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC supports First Nations, community forests, rural communities and many others who take on projects to help strengthen forest health and ecosystems, while creating good jobs in communities across the province,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “Through a $50-million grant this year from the Province, FESBC and their project partners are making significant progress to enhance forest resiliency to wildfire and climate change for the lasting benefit of British Columbians.”

FESBC-supported projects are often aimed at helping communities remove excess fibre from forests for two reasons. It reduces fuel for potential wildfires and helps provide the raw materials needed to make bio-products and bioenergy. Given that most of the recovered fibre would otherwise be burned in slash piles (waste from forestry activity), FESBC projects are also helping B.C. reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Community wildfire protection is a significant mandate of FESBC. Many First Nations and communities are safer and more secure during fire season due to work completed under FESBC leadership.

FESBC is funding 61 projects in 2023, including 19 projects announced on Nov. 30, 2023. The newly announced projects include:

  • almost $800,000 to assist in shipping northern fibre to BioNorth Energy facility in Fort St. James;
  • $1.25 million to Stuwix Resources joint venture (a partnership of eight First Nations in the southern Interior) to support the delivery of more than 1,500 logging-truck loads of low-value fibre to various facilities, including Nicola Clean Power in Merritt; and supporting a pilot project examining the operational and financial realities of a biohub to collect and process/merchandize low-value fibre in a central area; and
  • $1.8 million for a wildfire fuel break to be created by Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation northeast of the Anaham community.  

“FESBC is thrilled to assist the Government of British Columbia to support workers and communities,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director of FESBC. “This funding, in turn, is enabling local people to reflect their local forestry priorities in the projects they propose and often achieve multiple benefits for each project dollar. First Nations and local communities have the knowledge and creativity to leverage forestry projects to also improve wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gases, contribute to reconciliation, jobs for workers and much more.”

Founded in 2016, FESBC has been supporting forestry projects at the community level. Fully funded by the Province, B.C. announced $50 million in January 2023 to help FESBC evaluate and fund projects. Of the 61 projects receiving grants from FESBC in 2023, nine are wildfire risk-reduction projects and 52 are fibre-recovery projects. Some serve both needs.

Quotes:

Paul Donald, CEO, Simpcw Resources Group 

“FESBC funding plays a critical role in optimizing resource utilization. It helps us turn low-value fibre into a valuable asset. The resulting economic benefits contribute to the success of the Simpcw Resources Group, River City Fibre and the communities we proudly serve.”

Joe Nemeth, manager, BC Pulp and Paper Coalition 

“The funding from Forest Enhancement Society of BC is making a big and positive difference in our province. Without FESBC’s funding program, I believe we would have seen more pulp-mill downtime and probably one or two mills shut. The funding FESBC provides for projects that enhance the utilization of waste wood is a game changer that is helping to keep mills running and both First Nations and small contractors in business.”

Percy Guichon, executive director, Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation Ltd. 

“Thanks to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s unwavering support and funding, we’ve successfully recovered nearly one million cubic metres of residual fibre in our region over the past four years. This achievement not only represents a remarkable environmental stewardship effort on both FESBC and Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation’s (CCR) part, but also translates into  tangible impact on our community’s safety. It’s a testament to the positive outcomes that collaboration and dedicated funding can achieve for our environment and well-being.”

Gordon Murray, executive director, Wood Pellet Association of Canada –

“Improving utilization of wood fibre is a win for people and our forests. These projects support the conversion of what was once considered waste into wood pellets, creating jobs, heating and powering Canadian homes and businesses, reducing wildfire risk, and contributing to global climate goals by displacing fossil fuels and advancing new technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.”

Jennifer Gunter, executive director, BC Community Forest Association 

“The BC Community Forest Association and our members would like to express their appreciation to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) and Ministry of Forests for the funding that has been allocated to projects throughout the province to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and to better utilize low-value wood fibre. Community forestry is about local management driven by community values. FESBC puts funding directly into the hands of community forests so they can do the work to enhance their local forests and better protect their communities from wildfire.”

Quick Facts:

  • FESBC was founded in 2016 and has supported 372 projects amounting to $306,247,028 as of Nov. 27, 2023.
  • Ninety-seven of these projects were led by First Nations, with an additional 39 having significant First Nations involvement.
  • FESBC operates independently but is wholly funded through the Ministry of Forests.

Click here for the link to the story on the BC Government Website.

Finding Value in Wood Waste

-How two Merritt-based companies are revolutionizing sustainable forest management-

Merritt, B.C. – In a long-standing alliance, a First Nations-owned and operated fibre management company, Stuwix Resources Joint Venture (SRJV) and Valley Carriers, a visionary multi-generational trucking and specialty transportation company, are working together to make better use of leftover forest materials, i.e., forest residuals. With support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding for a Bush Grind Project, the partners aim to turn these residual materials into valuable biomass products, and they’re pushing the boundaries even further with a significant leap forward in a BioHub Pilot Project, dedicated to managing forest resources sustainably.

The BioHub Pilot Project is centred around the transition that the SRJV is now pursuing, changing from the traditional cut-to-length forestry practice to now full-length tree harvesting, moving toward a full tree utilization and zero-waste approach. This is an enormous step in sustainable forestry practices with significant impacts on forestry residue management. A part of this project is bush grinding of the residuals, for which FESBC has provided funding. Through the Bush Grinding project, forest residuals will be ground instead of being left behind and burned in slash piles, helping to reduce waste and avoid greenhouse gas emissions. This ground fibre will be transported to a green energy facility in Merritt. By extending the use of forest residuals, the two companies look to improve the sustainability of forestry practices by being better stewards of the land.

“Projects like this are a significant step towards a stronger and more sustainable B.C. forestry sector, transforming harvest residue that was once considered waste into value,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “This collaboration between Stuwix Resources Joint Venture and Valley Carriers, with support from FESBC, will also help protect communities from wildfire risks by removing residue from the forest floor, thereby removing wildfire fuel.”

SRJV currently manages the Forest Tenure Opportunity Agreement and the non-replaceable forest licenses on behalf of eight First Nations communities in the Nicola Valley. SRJV’s approach to forest management reflects the cultural, environmental, and social values of these First Nations with a vision to promote healthy ecosystems and communities while integrating traditional uses and practices.

Valley Carriers is part of the family-owned and operated Klassen Business Group, which was founded in 1963. They’ve been working with forest residuals for 60 years, and the family of companies produces and distributes both wholesale and retail wood residual-derived products such as mulch and wood shavings.

Together, the organizations exemplify positive collaboration to pursue the common goal of reducing waste and enhancing the utilization of fibre. However, the project was not envisioned in silos, but came about as a result of the community’s desire to see better-managed forests, according to Lindsay Tighe, General Manager of SRJV.

“It’s all community-driven. Our community strongly believes we need to better utilize the resources that the forest provides. Without the partnership with FESBC, we wouldn’t be able to pursue the transition to full fibre utilization. Their support is critical to enable our operations to adapt to this more sustainable approach,” said Tighe.

The Bush Grind Project is part of a Biohub Pilot Project, with an overarching vision to eradicate the age-old practice of underutilizing, piling, and burning forestry residuals but instead offer a sustainable alternative, converting these residuals into valuable resources, such as clean energy sources, including biogases, advanced biofuels, and various end-use products. By utilizing the entire resource, the two partners are not only respecting the resource itself and the land it is from, but they hope to increase the wood fibre supply for the agriculture, bioproduct, and bioenergy sectors that depend on the biomass generated by the forestry sector.

Ben Klassen, CEO of Valley Carriers, said, “The funding from FESBC is integral for the pilot project, as it helps minimize the risks to private businesses and enables creativity in creating a more sustainable industry.”

The BioHub Pilot Project is a partnership between SRJV, Valley Carriers, FP Innovations, and with support from FESBC funding, it serves as a symbol of improved forestry management practices, emphasizing complete stem utilization.

FESBC Senior Manager, Gord Pratt, said, “FESBC is proud to support the initiatives led by Stuwix and Valley Carriers in finding ways to increase the use of forest fibre that has traditionally not been utilized. Exploring new ways to optimize the delivery and use of forest fibre is long overdue and will only help the economy of the Merritt area. Lessons learned here will help other regions of the province and assist in building a more stable and diverse forest industry which is critical for the future of rural B.C.”

 A centralized, sustainable BioHub, capable of handling a broader spectrum of forestry residuals, will help meet the surging demand for wood residuals and biomass. The goal is to create a variety of value-added products for diverse sectors from what was traditionally thought of as wood waste.

“Our BioHub will increase the stream of residuals and help stabilize the supply of wood fibre to support the needs of the agricultural and clean energy sectors. This project is about using every metre of the forest in the most sustainable way,” said Klassen.

The benefits of the work are far-reaching and move beyond the environmental benefits. By transitioning to full-stem utilization and establishing the BioHub, SRJV will create eight jobs, and Valley Carriers will create an additional eight positions in Merritt, B.C. during the various phases of the project. Considering the level of unemployment in the area and the need to diversify, Klassen and Tighe agree that these jobs mean a lot to people in the region.

“This funding allows us to grow our operations and create more employment. The business of recovering under-utilized residuals has allowed our company to maintain steady employment for 25-30 people in Merritt for the last six years, and we are looking to grow with further resource utilization,” said Klassen.

For companies and communities wanting to move toward full fibre utilization, Klassen recommends maintaining their focus. “Even after many years doing this work, we are still trying to find a long-term solution that isn’t just made up of stop-gap funding. We’ve been able to do this for the last half-decade by not relenting on the conversation,” he said.

From the creation of new jobs to local access to renewable energy, decreasing the waste of natural resources and increasing the supply of wood fibre to combat the shortage in the agricultural sector, the project has a vision to move beyond traditional forestry. In addition to these benefits, fully recovering the forest residuals will remove excess materials that can fuel wildfires while also reducing  greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning these materials in the forest.

“We know we have less wood available; now we need to focus on how to use it properly. It’s like water restrictions; when they are in place, sustainable practices and real change starts to happen. We need to be the ‘Arizona’ of forestry; the forestry industry is not going away, but it is our time to pivot, focus on efficiencies and fully utilize the resources. Everyone can make a difference in forestry residual management, whether it’s a big or small licensee,” said Klassen, adding, “We don’t see this as the end but the start of something that will transform the industry.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Funding Bolsters Chinook Community Forest’s Vital Wildfire Risk Reduction Work

Burns Lake, B.C. – In a continuous effort to mitigate risk to communities and essential infrastructure from the threat of wildfires, the Chinook Community Forest (CCF) has embarked on a vital wildfire risk reduction project with funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC). Due to the large amounts of dead trees in the community forest caused by the mountain pine beetle pandemic, the initiative will have a far-reaching and positive impact on communities. These include areas on the south side of Francois Lake, including Eakin Settlement Road, Keefe’s Landing Road, and Tatalrose Road, as well as outlying communities such as Burns Lake, Danskin, Southbank, Tayksie, Southshore of Ootsa Lake, Sheraton, and Rose Lake.

Ken Nielsen, general manager of the CCF, explained that 80 per cent of the Lakes Timber Supply Area (LTSA) has pine-leading stands, which means that 80 per cent of the LTSA forest is comprised mainly of lodgepole pine, with the remaining 20 per cent comprised of spruce, balsam, and a little bit of fir.  This pine-leading stand has been impacted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic, with nearly all the lodgepole pine trees falling over the last two decades which have built up a layer of four to five feet on the forest floor of dead wood—creating a very high risk for extreme fires.

“With all this dead wood on the ground, there is the potential to have a very high degree of fire behaviour, which could transfer to crown fires, where the fire is able to move to the tops of the trees, jumping from one tree to another at a much faster speed, which firefighters from BC Wildfire Services can’t handle. This situation, if pushed by wind, drives fires into communities. There is a need to clean the forest floor of this dead wood, along with pruning and thinning of the forest stand structure, so in the event there is a fire, it remains on the forest floor at a low intensity, and BC Wildfire Services has a better chance to control it,” said Nielsen.

As part of the project, the community forest will be working on three different wildfire risk reduction areas that are prescribed for treatment which will cover roughly 200 hectares next to private property in the community. CCF is also developing prescriptions for Wildfire Risk Reduction treatments on roughly 900 hectares.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC plays a huge role as the third-party administrator of funds to help carry out critical wildfire risk reduction work that needs to be done in and around communities. A lot of the work that needs to be done is either hand pruning or thinning, selective logging, and the raking of fine fuels. Because this type of work does not create a source of income to pay for these treatment areas, it is very costly and would not have been possible without FESBC’s support,” said Nielsen.

This project is unique in that the proposed area was identified in the Crown Land Wildfire Risk Reduction Tactical Plan for Burns Lake, Rose Lake, Sheraton, and Highway 16 and developed by the Nadina Natural Resource District. The area gained prominence following the 2018 wildfires, prompting the local Ministry staff to pioneer one of the first landscape tactical plan in British Columbia. A landscape tactical plan is a strategic document that assesses and addresses specific hazards and risks within a defined geographic area, such as wildfire threats, insect infestations, or flooding and outlines subsequent actions to manage and mitigate risks.

“Sustainable community forest management is critical to reducing wildfire risk in our province,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “The collaborative efforts of Chinook Community Forest and FESBC will not only help build forest health and resiliency but also better protect people in surrounding communities from wildfire risks.”

This past summer, during a period of active wildfires throughout the province of British Columbia, the importance of the Ministry of Forests’ landscape tactical plan became clear when a lightning strike occurred close to the project area. This incident highlighted the unpredictability of lightning strikes, and wildfires emphasizing that they can occur anywhere and at any time.

“This demonstrated that lightning is not biased to where and when it will strike,” said Nielsen. “It further demonstrated the need for more wildfire risk reduction work around communities and backed up the tactical plan developed by the Province in identifying areas of highest threat. While the tactical plan cannot prevent wildfires, it can significantly enhance the preparedness and response capabilities of Chinook First Responders Society, working in tandem with BC Wildfire Service, to effectively combat wildfires.”

Work on the FESBC-funded project, which started back in the spring of 2023 in Southbank around the Indian Bay area, has been progressing well despite occasional interruptions by Mother Nature, according to Nielsen. Through this project, important resources within the community, including the community of Danskin, a local pharmacy, several residences and businesses, the Cheslatta Carrier Nation’s new office, and a Mennonite church, will all benefit from the wildfire risk reduction work.

Gord Pratt, FESBC’s senior manager said, “FESBC is proud and feels lucky to support such a proactive initiative by the Chinook Community Forest to reduce the wildfire risk to many of the communities at a high risk of being impacted by future wildfires on the south side of Francois Lake and the Burns Lake area.”

Moreover, the treatment units not only address high-risk areas but also provide job opportunities for local contractors and First Nations. It also supports maintaining trail systems in and around the area so people can better access areas to recreate and connect with the land. The work will also help with cattle grazing where these areas overlap by providing better access for the cattle and promoting the growth of grass.

Village of Burns Lake Mayor Henry Wiebe appreciated the work being done by CCF and highlighted its significance. “The wildfire risk reduction treatments being carried out by Chinook Community Forest are an important part of forest management. The treated areas increase security against wildfires, create wildlife corridors, and enhance wildlife habitat,” he said.

As a community forest, CCF is diligently balancing various objectives, including addressing local needs, providing compensation, generating employment, enhancing the forest’s natural beauty, and mitigating the ever-present wildfire risk.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Watch the FESBC announcement of the 42 Newly Funded Forest Enhancement Projects in B.C.

Kamloops, B.C.: In January 2023, the Government of BC announced it would provide $50 million in new funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to assist with the delivery of uneconomic forest fibre and to assist communities to reduce their wildfire risk.

On September 12, 2023, FESBC announced 42 newly funded projects valued at $34 million dollars. Watch this video to learn more from funded project partners like Simpcw Resources Group, Arrow Transportation Systems Inc. and Kruger Inc.

Watch the video, where Minister of Forests, Bruce Ralston, talks about the funding, and the work undertaken by FESBC, as well as get a glimpse into the announcement event held on September 12:

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

A First Nations Band Works to Reduce Wildfire Risk to the Community

A First Nations Band Works to Reduce Wildfire Risk to the Community

Creates Shaded Fuel Break Along Baldy Road Corridor

Osoyoos, B.C. – Extending its reach from South Okanagan into the Kootenay Boundary region, the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) has taken a lead role in a project important to users of Mount Baldy. Made possible with funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), this project centres on creating an 8.5-kilometre fuel break (a cleared or managed area in a forest where vegetation is intentionally reduced or removed to help prevent or slow the spread of wildfires) along Mt. Baldy Road, squarely aimed at mitigating the persistent wildfire threat to the infrastructure at Mt. Baldy and creating a safer egress route for public and firefighting crews in the event of a wildfire.

“B.C. has experienced a devastating wildfire season, and given the effects of climate change, mitigating wildfire risk is vital for keeping people, communities and First Nations in B.C. safe – now more than ever,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “FESBC has undertaken many wildfire risk reduction projects, bringing concrete benefits in areas throughout the province. It is encouraging to see this effort continue in the South Okanagan and Kootenay Boundary regions in partnership with the Osoyoos Indian Band.”

Baldy Road is a corridor that has numerous homes located along its 16-kilometre stretch. As well, the Baldy Mountain Resort, a recreational haven in the area and year-round community, is located at the north end along with key infrastructure and accessibility routes. 

Peter Flett, operations manager with Nk’Mip Forestry—OIB’s forestry department—emphasized the importance of this OIB-directed and supervised project in the area, and said, “Completion of this fuel treatment will decrease the risk of a high-intensity wildfire starting along the corridor by removing surface, ladder, and crown fuels in areas where the forest is dense and overgrown. In short, treating this long linear stretch of road will reduce the wildfire risk to the surrounding areas.”

Sharen Gibbs, Regional Director of Area E, West Boundary, and an area resident, agreed with Flett on the importance of the project and expressed how natural resources, with proper management, can support local economies and the environment to grow communities with foresight and consideration for future generations.

“The collaboration of Dan Macmaster, (Osoyoos Indian Band Forestry Manager), Peter Flett, and the Osoyoos Indian Band has been instrumental in attaining these goals. Understanding that while there may be concerns with over-logging in the province, this project focuses on fuel mitigation, and the Baldy Mountain Corridor will benefit immensely from this work. It will thin 100 metres off of the roadway of trees and debris, reducing fire hazards substantially and creating jobs. Much work has already been done by Baldy Mountain Resort and the residents of Baldy Mountain through the FireSmart Program,” said Gibbs. “It’s great news that the Forest Enhancement Society of BC will be funding this project and that clean-up will be done in conjunction with wood harvesting.”

The Nk’Mip Forestry team has completed the prescriptions of the area including a comprehensive roadmap for how to address wildfire risk while also conducting an archeological survey of the area. The wildfire risk reduction work will begin this fall.

According to James Katasonoff, wildfire officer with the BC Wildfire Service’s Southeast Fire Centre, while the Baldy Road project provides many benefits in maintaining a vital access or egress route, the improved feature will prove to be a viable control line during future suppression efforts in the area if wildfires were to occur as well.

“Historical and recent large fires evidence the fire-prone and dependent ecosystem in the Mt. Baldy area. The South face of Mt. Baldy, where the project is located, has been void of fire for decades, within a maturing and increasing fuel-loaded forest stand. Having this significant access/egress route protected and acting as a potential control line feature for the BC Wildfire Service is a significant benefit to community wildfire risk mitigation and will help save considerable time during fire suppression. The treatment will help keep fire intensity reduced and avoid crown fire and spotting potential directly on the fire edge if it were to become part of the perimeter control line,” Katasonoff said.

Katasonoff also acknowledged how great it has been to work with Dan Macmaster, Peter Flett and the OIB, on landscape-level mitigation projects and prescribed fire projects and said that working through challenges together and getting to know the individuals personally has developed a great working relationship. 

“Wildfire mitigation and prescribed fire projects in critical areas are important to communities and society. Projects must remain viable from a financial standpoint, so the work is completed. FESBC remains a critical lifeline to the completion of high-value community protection projects,” Katasonoff added.

All disturbance to the land requires review by the First Nations’ lands department and if they deem an area to have archeological potential, often a preliminary field reconnaissance (PFR), designed to assess the potential for archeological sites within an area, is required.

“When a PFR is requested by OIB, we send out an archeologist and an OIB technician to ground-truth the area to identify any key features or landforms that may warrant modifications to the treatment plan or complete avoidance,” explained Flett.

For the Baldy Road Corridor project, Brenda Gould, president at Similkameen Consulting, was hired to work on the archeological survey. Gould believes it is important to conduct archaeological studies on the land before proceeding with wildfire risk reduction activities to ensure that legally protected sites are not inadvertently impacted.

“Archaeology sites are often invisible and their precise locations are not publicly available. As such, sites can be inadvertently impacted by machinery, tree planting, fires, etc.; anything that can disturb the surface of the ground can cause impacts. I also say ‘inadvertently’, because I don’t believe people purposefully want to wreck a site,” said Gould.

Archaeological sites are automatically protected under the Heritage Conservation Act and altering them is illegal without a permit. In the case of wildfire risk reduction activities, these cause less disturbance than regular forestry harvesting so it is usually very easy to ensure site protection without compromising the activities meant to protect people and properties.

“The Baldy wildfire reduction survey was interesting. We found one previously recorded archaeological site just inside the boundary of one of the areas which meant that the boundary had to be pulled back a few metres. In other areas, we found a historic campsite, probably from within the last 50 years and a few huckleberry patches,” said Gould, adding, “It’s always a great day working with the OIB crew. And, as foresters, Dan and Peter pay special attention to Indigenous values when planning forestry activities and respond positively to recommendations. When archaeologists and forestry engineers work collaboratively, solutions can almost always be found so that all interests can be fully met.”

Brian Watson, operations manager with FESBC said, “I am impressed by the Osoyoos Indian Band’s commitment to preserving Indigenous values throughout their work. I am impressed by how they integrate the results of the archaeological survey and other Indigenous values seamlessly into wildfire risk reduction efforts. This holistic approach aligns perfectly with the values and goals of FESBC, and we are incredibly proud to support their invaluable contributions to the preservation of our forests and communities.”

Overall, the project champions a holistic perspective that covers a rich collection of values—visual, historical, and ecological, and showcases the community’s firm commitment to safeguarding its future.

“Our forests are burning at a devastating rate, having incredible impacts on wildlife, communities and personal well-being. It’s time for British Columbians to wake up and start being proactive and managing our forests for a future of wildfires. We can no longer hope our communities will be spared or saved by wildfire crews. When we have a mild fire season, we cannot forget the panic and suffering we experience during the severe fire seasons. Managing our forests for wildfire at the scale needed to see significant impacts comes with compromises, and these are the discussions we need to be having,” said Flett, adding, “Funding from FESBC is crucial for this project to occur. The standards of fuel reduction are very high to ensure adequate benefits are provided by the treatment. As a result, these treatments are not economical without financial assistance.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

A Practical Case for Utilizing Low Value Fibre Derived from Logging in BC Forest Professionals Magazine

An article by Brian Watson, Operations Manager, FESBC has been featured in the Fall 2023 issue of the BC Forest Professional Magazine.

The future of the BC forest industry has been debated, examined, and re-examined many times in the last 50 years. Today, discussions are underway at the forest landscape planning tables around the values we share, the health of our communities, and the resilience of our forests. It is more important now than ever to look at the full complement of products our forests can provide, including those derived from low value fibre, harvest residues, or biomass.

Brian Watson is an Operations Manager with the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia. He lives on Ktunaxa territory near ?·a·kiskʼaq– –I?· it (Cranbrook).

Reducing Wildfire Risk to Communities in Northwestern B.C.

Smithers, B.C. – Situated in the heart of the Bulkley Valley and surrounded by the Town of Smithers, the Village of Telkwa, and the Village of Witset, the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation (WCFC) has taken on two key roles: as a steward of the land and as a provider of outdoor recreational opportunities for surrounding communities. This significance is underscored by the recent allocation of funds from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) toward a wildfire risk reduction project. With the funding, the WCFC aims to expand a crucial shaded fuel break (where some trees are removed to reduce fuel and some are left standing to create shade) along the Hudson Bay Mountain Road (which is used to access recreational areas). This treatment is a proactive measure against the ever-present risk of wildfire. The project also showcases the community forest’s commitment to integrating the management of natural spaces with the safety and enjoyment of the local residents in mind.

“B.C. has experienced a devastating wildfire season, and given the effects of climate change, mitigating wildfire risk is vital for keeping people, communities and First Nations in B.C. safe – now more than ever,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “FESBC has undertaken many wildfire risk reduction projects, bringing concrete benefits in areas throughout the province. It is encouraging to see this effort continue in the Bulkley Valley in partnership with the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation.”

For the past several years, WCFC has diligently focused on reducing the wildfire risk within the community forest, and a shaded fuel break supports this goal. Although there are unknowns when it comes to fire behaviour and severity (drought, temperature, wind, etc.), a shaded fuel break is expected to balance forestry and social values by reducing wildfire risk to the community and creating a defensible location for wildfire crews in the event of a major wildfire.

Hudson Bay Mountain Road is an essential transportation corridor for Bulkley Valley residents, connecting them to recreational skiing, snowboarding, hunting, and fishing spots. The road is also a gateway to Hudson Bay Mountain Resort and Bulkley Valley Nordic Centre. The area’s significance extends beyond its role in recreation as this area also supports diverse ecosystems, including grizzly bears and rare whitebark pine, and is an iconic location in the Bulkley Valley and Wetzin’kwa Community Forest. The shaded fuel break is expected to help mitigate risk to these key community resources as well as provide access for fire crews and safe egress (escape) routes for the public.  

Hudson Bay Mountain an iconic feature in the Bulkley Valley and the heart of the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest; Photo credit: Silvicon Services Inc.

Aurora Lavender, general manager of WCFC said, “We are very grateful to FESBC for providing funding for the creation of our 2018 Strategic Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Plan (SWHMP) and this new funding for the implementation of work we are doing to create the shaded fuel break on Hudson Bay Mountain Road.”

The work on the treatment areas is underway and will continue for the next several years. These areas planned for treatments with support from FESBC funding were identified as high-priority regions under the 2018 Strategic Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Plan (SWHMP), to conduct wildfire risk reduction work. These areas were targeted due to the hazardous stand types such as diseased and dead trees, and overcrowded trees in the area, the proximity to the Town of Smithers, and the protection of local assets and recreational spaces and business resources for the communities of Smithers, Telkwa, and Witset.

Village of Telkwa Mayor Leroy Dykens also expressed gratitude and said, “We are extremely grateful to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC for providing funding toward wildfire risk reduction planning and project implementation for the Hudson Bay Mountain Road project. This work is vital in helping better protect the forests, recreational areas, infrastructure, and the public. Given the tremendous increase in wildfires in the Northwest region, it is evident that we need to do whatever we can to help mitigate forest fire concerns.”

Execution of this project involves a combination of manual and mechanical treatments administered by local contractors, including a Wet’suwet’en contractor. The work includes the removal of dead trees and reducing the number of trees through a commercial thinning phase, followed by decreasing the ladder fuels (live and dead vegetation which would otherwise allow a fire to go from the ground to the tops of trees) to more manageable levels per the treatment plans. This isn’t a one-off wildfire risk reduction measure and the WCFC will be continuing to collaborate with the BC Wildfire Service for subsequent maintenance treatments to ensure sustained efficacy.

FESBC Senior Manager, Gord Pratt said, “FESBC is very excited to be able to provide the funding to assist the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation to reduce the wildfire risk to this very important area to the residents of the Bulkley Valley. Previously, as a longtime resident of Smithers and Telkwa, I am pleased that our organization is able to support this project to reduce the wildfire risk to the many forest and recreation values I personally know are so important to everyone who resides and plays here.”

Over the years, WCFC has actively championed social initiatives advocating for the adoption of wildfire risk reduction strategies and has worked closely with the Skeena-Stikine Natural Resource District and the local BC Wildfire Service staff to do so. WCFC’s development of the SWHMP was timely and crucial toward creating strategies for reducing wildfire risk to the surrounding communities.

As recommended in the SWHMP, WCFC purchased the Wetzin’kwa Fire Trailer in 2019. This year, a small fire broke out within the community forest boundary. The Power’s Creek Fire was 34 hectares in size, and several residential evacuations resulted due to the fire’s proximity to private properties. The Wetzin’kwa Fire Trailer was deployed to the fire and assisted the Smithers Volunteer Firefighters in defending private properties and infrastructure.

FESBC’s executive director, Steve Kozuki said, “Community forests in British Columbia are owned by the communities themselves. As such, they manage their forests with the best interests of people in mind. Local forests managed by local people result in prioritization of what’s important to them—wildfire risk reduction, wildlife habitat, green energy from forest biomass, jobs for workers, and so on. When they do make a profit, that money goes back into the community for the benefit of their citizens”.

WCFC’s commitment to reducing wildfire risk extends beyond the immediate project. The community forest will continue exploring avenues to curtail wildfire risk in other sections, particularly within the Wildland-Urban Interface, and is dedicated to supporting community resiliency and fostering public education specific to wildfires.

“WCFC continues to invest in community safety and hopes to foster public education by creating linkages between wildfire risk reduction and FireSmart practices,” said Lavender.

Additional Quotes:

LINDSAY LANGE (VILLAGE OF TELKWA WCFC DIRECTOR):

“The Hudson Bay Mountain Road Fuel Break was identified as an area in our planning requiring treatments outside the scope of our regular operations. Support from FESBC helps make wildfire risk reduction programs economically feasible for community forests, which in turn helps better protect communities from the threat of wildfires.”

“The Wetzin’kwa Community Forest is a well-loved and heavily-used area of the Bulkley Valley. Many different user groups take advantage of its cultural, ecological, recreational, community, and economic values. Everyone benefits from the Community Forest, so protecting these values is something the Village of Telkwa is proud to support.”

GARY HANSON (TOWN OF SMITHERS WCFC DIRECTOR):

“The 2023 wildfire between Telkwa and Smithers, in the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest, demonstrated that fire poses a significant risk to our communities. Mitigating that risk with projects such as the fuel break work on Hudson Bay Mountain Road, will definitely help to better protect our forests and communities from wildfire.”

DAVID DE WIT (Office of Wet’suwet’en representative on the WCFC Board):

“We are proud of the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest general management team at Silvicon, and their collaboration with the Forest Enhancement Society to mitigate wildfire risk for communities. Understanding community values is a part of Yintah (land) stewardship; however, when projects are actioned that protect and promote the eco-cultural, recreation and economic values, meaningful Yintah management is achieved.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Kamloops This Week – 2023 National Forest Week Publication Features FESBC Projects

This year’s National Forest Week, from Sep 17 to 23, is all about celebrating and supporting the biological diversity we can find in Canada’s Forests.

Kamloops This Week featured several stories in their 2023 National Forest Week publication featuring FESBC projects to help celebrate National Forestry Week. These projects contribute to the creation of an environment that supports this year’s National Forest Week theme: Canada’s Forests: Supporting Biological Diversity.

The FESBC stories include:

 Taking Action to Reduce Wildfire Risk (Page 3)

Making a Difference for Communities, Climate (featuring FESBC’s Executive Director, Steve Kozuki on page 4)

Transformational Award-Winning Reading (Page 8)

Cougar Tracking, Part of Conservation Effort (Page 9)

Forest Enhancement Worth Tens of Millions (page 10)

Everyday Chores Make Everyday Heroes (page 11)

Steve Kozuki, Executive Director of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC announces 42 new forest enhancement projects throughout the province of B.C. to utilize uneconomic wood fibre and reduce the risk of wildfires to communities; Photo Credit: Tiffany Christianson Photography.

For more information, please contact:

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | 250 574 0221 | communications@fesbc.ca

Five Wildfire Risk Reduction Projects to Better Protect Communities in the Boundary Region

Photo top: Thinning cover; Photo Credit: Dan Macmaster.

Midway, B.C.: efforts are being made by the West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF) to better safeguard nearby communities from the potential dangers posed by wildfires. With the infusion of new grant funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s (FESBC) 2022-2023 Funding Program, the WBCF has made significant progress to reduce the risk of wildfires in the area.

Last year, WBCF received a grant of just over $1.1 million from FESBC. With this funding, the WBCF has taken proactive measures to enhance the safety of the communities of Midway, Greenwood, Grand Forks, Rock Creek, and Westbridge by working to mitigate the risk of wildfires.

“Sustainable community forest management is critical to reducing wildfire risk in our province,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “The collaborative efforts of West Boundary Community Forest and FESBC will not only help build forest health and resiliency but also betterprotect people in surrounding communities from wildfire risks.”

This recent FESBC funding will be used to clean up dead material and ladder fuels in the understory, limit insect infestations by salvaging trees that host beetles, and improve foraging for wildlife. Collaborating with  First Nations and neighbouring communities on how to conduct the work in order to support these values has been essential in delivering this project.

Dan Macmaster, Registered Professional Forester (RPF), Community Forest Manager for WBCF, emphasized the importance of undertaking wildfire risk reduction work close to the communities.

“For far too long, forest stands directly adjacent to residents have been neglected due to various factors, including visual concerns, public pressure to avoid clear cuts,  proximity to local recreational trails, and the perception that logging should be done far away from towns and hidden in the backcountry,” said Macmaster. “As a result, unmanaged forested areas tend to exhibit an abundance of forest fuels such as dead trees and branches that have accumulated on the forest floor over the years.”

The dense canopies of these forested areas can further hinder the growth of shrubs and grasses, limiting the forage opportunities for wildlife. Additionally, the presence of insects like the douglas-fir beetle is becoming a significant concern, as they thrive in environments rich with stressed or blown-down wood.

“The focus on wildfire risk reduction around our communities signifies a fundamental shift in forest management practices, recognizing the critical role good management plays in overall forest health and community safety,” noted Macmaster.

Work is already underway on five projects, and include:

Fiva Creek (Westbridge): the project tackled a dense lodgepole pine stand near homes by thinning out trees to reduce canopy connectivity and for visual appeal. Dead pulp logs were collected and chipped, while collaborative efforts with residents saw FireSmart measures implemented. A post-harvest prescription has now been developed to strategically remove remaining fuels to create an effective fire break.

Rock Creek: areas south of Rock Creek, adjacent to private properties, the Riverside Centre, and the main highway, pose a significant risk of a catastrophic wildfire due to its steep slope and accumulated forest fuels over the years. To address this risk, a local contractor is conducting hand piling and branch pruning operations. The small piles of debris generated from these activities will be burned in the fall, effectively reducing the potential for a devastating wildfire in the Rock Creek area.

Myers Road (Midway): Myers Road in Midway serves as a crucial east-west route parallel to the United States (US) border. Recognizing the risk of a wildfire spreading from the US into B.C., a shaded fuel break has been developed along the road. Within a 75-metre corridor on each side of the road, forest debris removal and the removal of branches, or ladder fuels, is taking place to prevent the upward movement of wildfires into the tops of the trees. The project will also improve road access for fire crews to enable effective fire suppression efforts in the event of a wildfire. While large-diameter trees will be retained within the treatment area, hand piling and pruning activities will be carried out after harvesting to establish the shaded fuel break.

Greenwood: the eastern slope of Greenwood features a dense stand of trees with a significant accumulation of dead forest fuels, posing a high wildfire risk. To address this concern, a fuel break has been designed on both the lower and upper slopes with the aim of slowing down the spread of a wildfire. The treatment has involved cutting small dead trees and piling up fuels, which will be burned in the fall.

Lone Star (Grand Forks): this project, situated west of Grand Forks in the Phoenix area, runs parallel to the US border along a road called the City of Paris. The dense US National Forest to the south raises concerns about the potential spread of wildfires from Washington and Montana. To address this, improvements will be made to the old road to enhance access for fire suppression crews. A fuel break will also be established along the road and will involve the removal of forest fuels, thinning trees, focusing on the retention of the most fire-resistant trees, such as douglas-fir, western larch and ponderosa pine.

Resource Operations Manager for the Selkirk District, Grant Walton, RPF, expressed the importance of the funding received from FESBC for these five projects and the many different projects in the Selkirk Forest District. He also noted that these projects have consistently been in alignment with the Wildfire Risk Reduction program goals to reduce the risk of wildfire around the West Kootenay communities. 

“To date, FESBC has funded projects for fuel management treatments, planning prescriptions for fuel management treatments, and maintenance of stands. These projects are helping inter-agencies such as the Regional District of Central Kootenay and other groups, including the West Boundary Community Forest, complete wildfire risk reduction projects,” remarked Walton. “FESBC has been helping to build important capacity within our communities to complete wildfire risk reduction work with these smaller tenure holders.”

The successful implementation of these projects relies on a collaborative approach. Recognizing this, the WBCF emphasizes strong partnerships and active involvement from First Nations communities. In particular, the WBCF has fostered an excellent relationship with the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB), ensuring that their perspectives and expertise are incorporated throughout the process.

Photos: May Creek thinning; Photo credits: Dan Macmaster.

“The five WBCF projects funded by FESBC serve as a conduit in bringing these relationships together between the OIB and the communities. This collaboration is a testament to the importance of working together to better protect the region from natural disasters, particularly the threat of wildfires,” said Macmaster.

Fibre utilization also is playing a crucial role in wildfire risk reduction work. Two of these projects focus on enhanced fibre utilization efforts. This approach recognizes the value of reducing the amount of waste material after treatments which leads to a reduction is carbon emissions and creates economic benefits at the same time.

“Fibre utilization can be a crucial aspect of our wildfire risk reduction projects, playing a significant role in mitigating the potential temporary risks posed by the accumulations of material created from the treatments,” noted Brian Watson, RPF, Operations Manager with FESBC. “By effectively utilizing harvested materials, we address two key objectives: reducing the accumulation of fuels close to homes before they can be burnt and maximizing the value of our forest resources and promoting sustainable management of the forest resource.”

Photos: Various consultation tours for the projects in the Boundary region;
Photo credits: Peter Flett.

Together, FESBC, the Ministry of Forests, the OIB, and the WBCF are turning potential hazards into valuable assets, ensuring that no part of harvested wood materials goes to waste. Through this approach, good forest management is better-safeguarding communities but also demonstrating the commitment to responsible forestry practices and the long-term health of forests for generations.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Prescribed Burns and Sheep Habitat Enhancement in the Omineca-Peace Region

Prince George, B.C.: the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) is proud to announce over $8 million in funding for 167 fish and wildlife conservation projects throughout B.C. this year, with over $1 million allocated to projects in the Omineca-Peace region.

Wild sheep habitat burn program. Photo: Ridgeline Wildlife Enhancement Inc.

For over 40 years, the HCTF has provided grants to a large network of recipients who undertake conservation projects. With support from the HCTF, a wide range of nonprofit organizations, First Nations and Indigenous communities, Provincial ministries, and community groups implement projects that protect B.C.’s wildlife, freshwater fish, and their habitats. Since 1981, the HCTF has funded over 3,550 projects representing an investment of over $215 million for conservation in B.C.

Among this year’s projects in Omineca-Peace is a multi-year prescribed burn program which aims to restore wild sheep habitat in current and historical ranges. By treating grasslands with prescribed fire, forage will improve in quantity and quality, and sightlines will increase for better predator detection.

“The overall goal of the Wild Sheep Habitat burn program is to restore and enhance habitat to retain healthy and sustainable sheep populations and to support ecosystem diversity at a landscape scale,” says wildlife biologist and project leader Alicia Woods of Ridgeline Wildlife Enhancement. “The use of prescribed fire is the most ecologically appropriate and natural method of habitat treatment in the Stone’s sheep range.”

The project is being supported by the HCTF and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) with $123,462 in co-funding this year. According to FESBC’s executive director Steve Kozuki, “In many areas of British Columbia, forest fires are essential for wildlife habitat for many species and for overall ecosystem health. The experts at HCTF are making a big difference in our natural world.”

HCTF CEO Dan Buffett is proud to work alongside FESBC in this partnership noting, “Collectively we can fund more projects such as prescribed fires and enable our project partners to deliver more conservation work that benefits fish, wildlife, and their habitats.” 

Other HCTF-funded projects taking place in the Omineca-Peace region include:

• $84,656 to assess the long-term influence of prescribed fire on forage for Stone’s sheep and elk and make recommendations to current prescribed burning practices (with FESBC funding).

• $254,809 for functional and ecological restoration of approximately 16km of linear corridors in the Clearwater Valley to improve caribou habitat.

• $80,662 to study effects of landscape change on moose health in central B.C. (with FESBC funding).

• $134,910 for restoration of linear features in Sugarbowl-Grizzly Den Provincial Park and Protected Area to reduce predator movement and human disturbance in caribou habitat.

• $15,433 to enhance sightlines and visibility and improve accessibility for the public to enjoy the Tabor Mountain viewing area platform.

Each project funded by the HCTF goes through a multi-level, objective and technical review process prior to the final Board review and decision. HCTF’s Board of Directors ensure that species important to B.C. anglers and hunters are supported but also place a great deal of importance on conserving whole ecosystems, species-at-risk, and investing in environmental education across the province.

To see the complete list of HCTF-funded projects view the 2023-24 Approved Project List, or explore the conservation work being done near you on our Project Map.

Reducing Wildfire Risk in Northern B.C.

Houston, B.C. – a project to reduce wildfire risk, establish a defensible fuel-free zone, and modify the amount of forest fuels has been successfully completed south of the District of Houston (the District) through Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding. The project took a large-scale effort of the District, BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), Houston’s Fire Chief, the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and several other stakeholders working together.

Leading the wildfire risk reduction project for the District was Pro-Tech Forest Resources Ltd. (Pro-Tech). The project’s goals were to reduce wildfire risks in areas identified in the 2018 Houston Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and establish a defensible fuel-free zone for future fire personnel. The project in total covered a 9.7 km long, 1,202.1 hectares interface zone (which is equivalent to 2,247 football fields) along the southwest boundary of the District, collaborating closely with government and industry professionals. Despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was completed successfully, including planting 330,000 trees in July 2022.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that benefit communities, workers, and the health of our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are building on this foundation with an additional investment of $50 million for the Society to expand funding for projects that increase access to fibre, reduce emissions from slash pile burning and reduce the risk to people from wildfire.”

In many ways, the project was in response to the Swiss Wildfire in 1983 that burned over 18,000 hectares of forest in Houston. The fire destroyed seven residences, damaged other important infrastructure, and significant suppression costs. “The Swiss Wildfire made the community aware that a wildfire threat was real and has very real consequences for people and communities. Homes were lost in that fire, and media reports indicated there was a real threat to the community. I believe that the fires in Kelowna in the summer of 2003, and the following provincial report that followed (Firestorm 2003) are what helped initiate the current risk reduction efforts in Houston,” noted Scott Rowsell, President, Pro-Tech Forest Resources.

In 2005, Pro-Tech prepared Houston’s first CWPP, and wildfire risk reduction work began soon after, led by Doug McRae, another local forestry professional. These activities were carried out in many high-risk zones around the community and included thinning and pruning trees, ground cleanup, and overstory removal. The Houston CWPP was updated a few years later using the latest science and research, and further identified the area between Buck Flats Road and the Morice Forest Service Road as a high-risk area for a wildfire due to the high combustibility and density of dead and dry vegetation. This zone to the South of the community became the project area where work occurred with FESBC funding.

Gord Pratt, Senior Manager, FESBC, said, “FESBC also recognized the risk to the community of Houston was pleased to provide funding that enabled this collaborative and innovated wildfire risk reduction project to be completed that will reduce the risk of wildfire to the community for many years to come.” 

Rebecca Werner, project manager with Pro-Tech, managed the project with the overall goals of getting value for what was logged and reducing forest fuels that posed a hazard to the District. “Without collaboration, this project would not have been successful as it was. Without everyone believing in the project and assisting us in various ways, we would never have been able to complete the program. Fuel reduction is a team effort!” said Werner.

BCWS played a vital role with their extensive knowledge of fire behavior and specific training related to risk reduction and provided guidance on fuel modification plans and strategies to reduce risks. They also assisted in developing stocking standards, burn plans, and providing the professionals needed for large broadcast burns. BC Timber Sales and Canadian Forest Products prepared the ground for fuel modification activities and the Ministry of Forests provided guidance for special treatment recommendations for sensitive riparian zones.

In total, six prescribed burn plans were prepared by Derek Smith, project manager with Pro-Tech, then peer-reviewed by several layers of industry professionals. These plans allowed the effective use of large-scale broadcast burns during the project treatments and will assist in maintenance burns going forward. “Broadcast burning is by far the most impactful and cost-effective tool for wildfire risk reduction,” said Smith.

The project team also included Houston Fire Chief Jim Daigneault. “Chief Daigneault’s involvement throughout the project was very important,” noted Rowsell. “He was able to steer the project planning to fit with the overall goals for the community and provided us with open communication with the District throughout the project.”

Adaptation was as critical to the project as collaboration was, and flexibility was required. The original plan to reduce fire risk by promoting deciduous trees was revised mid-project due to new research showing an increased risk of ground fires. The project pivoted to a new wildfire stocking standard, and 380,000 pine and birch seedlings were planted. Treatment options balanced fuel reduction with the integrity of riparian zones, and economic interests were integrated into the fuel-free fire guard. “These large wildfire risk reduction projects are complicated with many moving parts, but ultimately they are well worth the efforts in the end,” noted Rowsell specifically for other Districts contemplating wildfire risk reduction projects in the future.

The project provided contract opportunities and employment, even through COVID-19 mandates for manual fuel modification crews, wildfire contract crews, project supervision, and mechanical fuel modification. It allowed a variety of training opportunities for the local provincial wildfire crews such as prescribed broadcast burning ignition, and hand ignition techniques, and new firefighters were exposed to water systems and mop-up, helicopter ignition, etc. The result is a significant area along the southern part of the community of Houston that has undergone wildfire risk reduction treatments.  

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Going Above and Beyond in Wildfire Risk Reduction Work

Slocan Valley, B.C. – in a world increasingly threatened by wildfires and climate change, a forest cooperative has taken proactive measures to safeguard its community and surrounding natural resources. The Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative (SIFCo) embarked on the journey of wildfire risk reduction long before this work came on the general public’s radar, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this pressing issue proactively. Today, with the invaluable financial support of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), the forestry cooperative has made significant strides toward reducing wildfire risk, climate change adaptation and setting a remarkable example for others.

SIFCo was formed from the local community’s long-standing aspiration for local control of area forests. In response to the availability of Community Forest Licenses, SIFCo seized the opportunity and has been guided by the principles of embracing diverse perspectives and value systems of residents in relation to forestry. After obtaining approval for its Forest Stewardship Plan in January 2009, SIFCo solidified its commitment by signing a 25-year Community Forest Agreement with the Province of British Columbia in December 2011.

“As we increasingly face the impacts of a changing climate, we must take a proactive approach to managing wildfire risk,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “Supporting the organizations who are leading this work like the Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative is crucial in making the fight against wildfires a year-round, dedicated activity. The Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative has committed years to mitigating wildfire risk. With this support, they can continue to ensure our forests are resilient and our communities, homes and businesses are protected.”

SIFCo type 1 treatment – Wildland Urban Interface hand treatment crew for wildfire risk reduction

Early on, SIFCo realized the importance of landscape-level planning, which in SIFCo’s words is ‘the art and science of developing land management plans’ for tenured areas or areas the provincial government grants the rights to for harvesting timber, which included developing a first-of-its-kind Strategic Wildfire Protection Plan (SWPP) among tenure holders in B.C.  In 2017, SIFCo looked to FESBC for funding support to implement their Landscape-Level SWPP and since then, a total of $2.25 million has been granted from FESBC to SIFCo for wildfire mitigation work. 

According to Stephan Martineau, Manager of SIFCo, “We have made significant progress toward completing our ground-breaking plan which aims to mitigate wildfire risks and better protect the region’s cherished natural resources. FESBC’s support has been instrumental in our progress toward landscape-level wildfire mitigation, ecosystem enhancement, and climate change adaptation. Their commitment to our vision has eliminated obstacles and paved the way for a resilient future.”

The work undertaken by SIFCo through FESBC funding has essentially created and/or been part of creating over 1,000 hectares of fuel-managed areas, leaving behind a more resilient forest landscape and helping better safeguard both the community and the environment.

Part of the planning involved designating 12 specific areas called Fuel Management Zones in strategic locations along potential paths where fires could spread. These areas were identified using a tool called FlamMap, a desktop application also used by the US Forest Service.  FlamMap allowed SIFCo to input data and virtually simulate fires, providing a realistic understanding of fire dynamics based on specified conditions such as aspect, slope, moisture content, temperature, and wind speed. By harnessing this technology, SIFCo was able to strategically focus its treatment zones in areas where wildfires were more likely to travel and where treatments could reduce wildfire behaviours, ensuring effective wildfire mitigation and protection for the community and its surroundings.

These Fuel Management Zones act as anchor spaces that separate potential fuel sources from infrastructure and can cover hundreds of hectares, the zones are invaluable in the event of a wildfire. Within these zones, SIFCo uses four different approaches to manage the vegetation, including restoring the natural balance of the ecosystem through prescribed burns.

According to Martineau, landscape-level planning integrates fire risks into resource management decisions, acknowledging the role of wildfires in the ecosystem. Drawing from landscape ecology, which examines the flow of life, materials, and energy in landscapes, strategic options like fuel reduction, strategic fuel breaks, and resilient forest types are considered.

“Understanding how human actions shape landscapes and recognizing the significance of wildfires in managing forests is also vital for creating communities resilient to fire,” stressed Martineau. “With climate change predictions pointing to a rise in wildfires, it’s crucial that we change the way fire spreads through the forest by reducing fuel loads now. This is the key to preserving the beautiful forests we cherish for generations to come. As a forestry cooperative, we believe it’s our duty to care for the land in a way that benefits us now and ensures a better future for all.”

A key part of the work undertaken by SIFCo is focused on climate change adaptation which SIFCo has wholeheartedly embraced, resulting in a comprehensive transformation of its forestry operations. Its unwavering commitment to this cause has made climate change adaptation the guiding principle in every aspect of its forestry endeavours. “We have been proactive in applying a holistic response to rapidly changing climate conditions in our bioregion. We try to foresee where we will need to be 10 to 20 years from now, and then we implement — both as an organization and in our relationship with the land base we steward — actions in the present that will prepare the ground for a resilient future,” explained Martineau.

SIFCo’s foresight has meant they are already implementing advanced forestry management practices including strategic Wildland Urban Interface re-treatment. “Now that we have created these 12 strategic Fuel Mitigation Zones, we need to maintain them,” says Martineau. This approach involves SIFCo setting aside a budget to implement maintenance re-treatments 7 to 10 years after the initial treatment, effectively managing small coniferous regeneration, and ensuring cost-effective fuel management while preserving previous investments. The good news is that re-treatment so far has cost an average of 15% of what the initial investment was.

“The lesson here is that the initial investment is critical, but once you have made it, the cost of maintaining the work is dramatically reduced. Very few companies have been at this for 15 years, so our data is very encouraging in terms of both industry and government investments in fuel mitigation,” concluded Martineau.

“It is impressive that SIFCo is already at this stage where they are proactively funding and implementing their own re-treatment program,” said Brian Watson, RPF, Operations Manager with FESBC. “Their efforts not only demonstrate a cost-effective strategy for community protection but also serve as an impressive demonstration of how a region can approach landscape-scale climate change adaptation and wildfire preparedness. The evolution of SIFCo’s exemplary work sets a valuable precedent for others implementing wildfire risk reduction programs throughout the province.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

“Everyday Chores Make Everyday Heroes”: FESBC Supports FireSmart BC’s Spring Campaign

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is proud to support FireSmart BC’s 2023 spring campaign, “Everyday Chores Make Everyday Heroes.” As spring brings forth new life and rejuvenation, it also serves as a timely reminder of the need for heightened wildfire prevention efforts in British Columbia. It’s time to turn everyday tasks into opportunities to make a difference and reduce wildfire risks.

The campaign revolves around the idea that by dedicating a few moments each day to tasks like cleaning gutters, clearing yard debris, and creating defensible spaces around our homes, we become everyday heroes. These seemingly mundane chores transform into acts of bravery that can save lives and protect our properties. Each small step contributes to a collective effort that builds resilience and ensures the safety of our beloved province.

For the next month, FireSmart BC’s “Everyday Chores Make Everyday Heroes” campaign calls upon all British Columbia residents to seize the beginning of spring as the ideal time to address potential wildfire risks. The recent sight of smoke billowing from wildfires reminds us of the urgency to take proactive measures. It’s time to unleash our inner heroes and make a lasting impact on our safety and communities.

At FESBC, we are proud supporters of FireSmart BC’s mission to promote wildfire prevention and enhance forest resiliency. Through funding, partnerships, and the promotion of best practices, we enable the implementation of FireSmart initiatives throughout the province. As a member of the BC FireSmart Committee, established  in 2017, we actively contribute to the direction and coordination of wildfire prevention activities.

The “Everyday Chores Make Everyday Heroes” campaign is a call to action for all British Columbians to become active participants in wildfire prevention. By joining this movement, we can transform ordinary tasks into extraordinary acts of heroism, protecting our homes and communities. Let’s spread awareness, participate in community events, and share our experiences to inspire others to take action in helping B.C. be a wildfire-resilient province where everyone works, plays and lives FireSmart.

Find out more about the campaign and how you can participate, here: https://firesmartbc.ca/

Wildfire Risk Reduction Project an Example of Collaboration

Nelson, B.C. – the Selous Creek Wildfire Risk Reduction Project near Nelson, B.C. has demonstrated that it is possible to harvest trees to reduce wildfire risk while maintaining cultural, ecological, recreational, and aesthetic values. With funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) and partnerships among regional, municipal and provincial governments, fire services, and a local timber licensee, a wildfire risk reduction project is a prime example of collaboration to better protect a community.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that benefit communities, workers, and the health of our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are building on this foundation with an additional investment of $50 million for the Society to expand funding for projects that increase access to fibre, reduce emissions from slash pile burning and reduce the risk to people from wildfire.”

In the last few years, wildfires have threatened and significantly impacted many communities due to their higher intensity and increased severity. With the community of Nelson being identified as strategically important by the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the city, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK), with several stakeholders, took steps to reduce the risk of wildfire in the area.

“The Kootenays are a unique place. The area incubates and attracts people with ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas and our elected officials and staff are the proxy of the residents of the RDCK,” said Angela French, RFT, Wildfire Mitigation Supervisor with the RDCK. “The inspiration for our wildfire risk reduction project was the residents’ concerns about wildfire and the risks associated with the changing climate. RDCK Regional Fire Chief Nora Hannon was instrumental in making this program what it is today, and my predecessor Joel Hamilton, continued that legacy.”

Since 2017, the project has made significant strides in its goal to reduce the risk of wildfire. Operating area tenure holder Kalesnikoff Lumber Company (Kalesnikoff) completed 80 hectares of mechanical harvesting or removing trees using machines. Ground-based mechanical fuel modification, or piling additional debris left after harvest, was completed on 20 hectares. Adjacent to the harvested areas and along the Vein bike trail, an additional 5.5 hectares of understory, or layer of vegetation that grows beneath the trees, was treated by hand to thin and remove some of the fuel load. An additional 7.5 hectares of understory hand treatment was completed along the Great Northern Rail Trail. To prepare for the prescribed burn, the project took proactive measures to protect the outer perimeter of the harvested area and surrounding reserve patches by creating a debris-free guard by utilizing a machine-tethered system in areas with steep terrain.

Gord Pratt, FESBC Senior Manager said, “FESBC was extremely pleased to provide funding to the RDCK so they could lead the delivery of this project by taking on a role that isn’t common with other Regional Districts across the province. The project was successful due to the collaborative work by all involved and led by the RDCK to ensure meaningful input and involvement in the planning and implementation of the project, which included involving local governments, the Ministry of Forests, the local forest licensee, Kalesnikoff, and local public interest groups. The result was a project that reduced the wildfire risk to people in the Nelson area through diverse forest management activities.”

John Cathro of Cathro Consulting played a major role in the project and applauded the initiative taken by RDCK. “The project would never have happened without the vision and commitment of RDCK staff and elected officials. Everyone involved at the RDCK knew they were doing something innovative, and that success would require taking risks, forming new relationships, and trusting in the process,” said Cathro.

Cathro explained that the project had a few challenges: Building trust and commitment among various stakeholders for a long-term wildfire risk reduction project, limited grant cycles, and shorter attention spans made it difficult to build trust and engage community leaders who could promote the project. Overcoming these obstacles required innovative solutions and a willingness to embrace untested initiatives, and all parties involved showed that in abundance, according to Cathro.

“In the case of climate resilience and community wildfire risk reduction, change is necessary but change does not happen by itself. It takes people to get together and make it happen,” said Cathro, adding, “Given the complexity of the project, FESBC was flexible with changing timelines and modifications to the scope. The project would have stopped after the first year if the funding program was too stringent or unbending.”

Gerald Cordeiro, the Forest Development Manager for Kalesnikoff, also highlighted the collaborative aspects of the project, calling it a success. “One of the main takeaways for me was that the collaboration was a success in terms of advancing our collective knowledge of how to work together on a project in order to achieve the desired results,” said Cordeiro.

According to Cordeiro, the collaboration kicked into high gear when Kalesnikoff, the RDCK, BC Wildfire Service, the City of Nelson, and several notable local experts began investigating and planning for what can now be seen as a mostly-complete fuel treatment on the hillside just south of Nelson. “Throughout the planning process, we kept coming back to the idea that this would be a first-of-its-kind project, and the collaborative aspect was as important as the physical results. We learned to work within a multi-jurisdictional shared decision-making environment that will act as an invaluable model for other future projects. The planning process also included seeking input from other local interest groups, Indigenous communities, and the local community, in addition to engaging with Selkirk College and FP Innovations,” explained Cordeiro.

The project has the prescribed burn left to do this year. Kalesnikoff will also be tree planting and placing pheromone deterrents to keep the bark beetles out of the Douglas Fir trees. “We all want to make sure we take the opportunity to get the message out that collaboration works, and we can now demonstrate significant results to benefit society without an untenable set of compromises,” said Cordeiro.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

CFI Magazine Features the Incredible Story of how Community Efforts have Set Out to Reduce Wildfire Risk in and around Whistler, B.C.

Canadian Forest Industries (CFI) magazine, which is one of Canada’s important national logging and solid wood products magazine since 1881, has featured the fantastic collaborative story of how the Whistler community set out to reduce wildfire risk with support from FESBC funding.

The story talks about how the managers of these forests face the dual challenge of preserving their natural beauty while also addressing the risk of wildfires that these forests present. To read the full story, click here: https://www.fesbc.ca/a-community-effort-to-reduce-wildfire-risk/

A Community Effort to Reduce Wildfire Risk

Whistler, B.C. – The forests surrounding Whistler, B.C. offer a picturesque backdrop for the town’s world-class recreational opportunities. However, the managers of these forests face the dual challenge of preserving their natural beauty while also addressing the risk of wildfires that these forests present.

The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF), governed by a non-profit society of representatives from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and the Líl̓wat and Squamish First Nations, realized the potential impact of a wildfire to the tourists and the critical importance of wildfire risk mitigation. One spark from an ignition source had the potential to start a fire that could spread and put the ski hill recreation area, walking and biking trails, and other important infrastructure like homes and transportation corridors at risk.

Winter operations undertaken by the crew. Credit: David Conly.

To mitigate this risk and to do so in a sustainable way, foresters from the Líl̓wat Forestry Ventures LP, an arm of the Líl̓wat First Nation, with funding from FESBC, set out to create a wildfire risk reduction plan which included consultation with the community and other stakeholders. One of the concerns identified by the community was around smoke from the burning of the debris from the treatments. The wildfire risk reduction treatments were completed by the Lil’wat Nation forestry crews resulting in a reduction of the forest fuels, minimizing smoke emissions and maintaining the forest recreation values. Moreover, the treated stands now have lower levels of fuel. Today, the successes of their efforts serve as a demonstration of the benefits that a tourist town can reap from implementing wildfire risk reduction measures.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that benefit communities, workers, and the health of our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are building on this foundation with an additional investment of $50 million for the Society to expand funding for projects that increase access to fibre, reduce emissions from slash pile burning and reduce the risk to people from wildfire.”

Dean Nelson, the Chief of the Líl̓wat First Nation, spoke about the forests where the work was conducted. He explained that the initiative was in response to the province-wide call for municipal preparedness and was prompted by the threat of wildfires and the impacts of climate change on communities and forests throughout B.C.

“For the residents of Whistler, this work was crucial to help prevent and raise awareness of the potential dangers of forest fires,” Nelson said. “For the people living in Whistler, this work is very important for the prevention and cautionary awareness of potential forest fire danger. The number of trees remaining after the treatment varied from site to site, from a density of 250 stems per hectare, up to 400 stems per hectare. Fibre utilization from the treatments was undertaken, sawlogs were marketed for timber, the lower-valued residue was used for firewood and compost, and burning was minimized.”

The wildfire risk reduction work carried out by Líl̓wat Forestry Ventures LP was focused on larger landscape-level fuel breaks that aimed to prevent fires from spreading from the south of Whistler, according to Klay Tindall, the General Manager of Forest Operations for the Líl̓wat Forestry Ventures LP.

“The plan was to remove approximately 45 per cent of the original stand of second-growth Douglas fir, totalling around 18,000 cubic metres. Where possible the residual fibre was utilized with lowered carbon emissions in mind. For instance, some fibre was chipped and mixed off-site with solid human waste to produce compost material. By avoiding burning the residual material, a reduction in the release of PM2.5 smoke particulate was achieved. ” said Tindall. “This would not have been possible without the funding and support from FESBC as these are rather smaller areas, and the cost of working on these is rather high. The treated area is now being used for new mountain bike trails by the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association and is giving them a great spot to build some more beginner and intermediate trails.

The project also had a significant impact on the Lilwat community members employed by Líl̓wat Forestry Ventures LP, according to Reno Joe, the contract manager. The work provided a unique opportunity for the Nation to empower its youth and enhance their training. Reno stated, “Everything was locally sourced, and we aimed to bring in experienced professionals from neighbouring Nations. The project helped us build our First Nations’ capacity and gain valuable work experience. We are proud to say that we have engaged more young people in the community, and had six Lil’wat and four additional youths who participated in the project. Of these, one Lil’wat youth is already studying Fire Management at the Vancouver Island University, and one other Lil’wat youth is getting his bachelor’s degree in Forest Ecology and Management from UNBC.”

The project also faced several challenges. Chief Nelson acknowledged that the first obstacle was gaining recognition as competent forestry professionals. Despite this difficulty, the First Nations company was able to demonstrate its expertise and completed the project.

Jordon Gabriel, the Cultural and Community Forestry Manager, who works for Lil’wat Forestry Ventures, spoke about additional challenges such as residents’ concerns about declining property values, complaints about smoke from prescribed burns, and difficulties with the public entering active work sites. “Managing public access during the work and gaining support from local residents were challenges at the time, but now, even they can see the positive outcomes of this work,” Gabriel said.

Heather Beresford, CCF’s Executive Director noted that one of the project’s main challenges was helping local residents understand the importance of this forest thinning work in the long term.

“Some Whistler residents think that the thinning work makes the forests look ‘ugly’ and may even increase the risk of wildfire since they believe the forests dry out earlier in the spring. In response, the RMOW and CCF are implementing a monitoring program to measure certain characteristics pre- and post-treatment to see what is actually happening in the forests. This will give us valuable insight and ensure that our actions are having a positive impact,” said Beresford.

Brian Watson, RPF, Operations Manager with FESBC said, “The work that Lil’wat Forestry Ventures LP completed on behalf of the Cheakamus Community Forest is important in that it occurred in a part of the province that has a high profile and where wildfire risk reduction work is just starting to be implemented. It’s important that people see this work so that they can be part of the conversation around wildfires and the risks they pose to our communities. What people will not see is that the project phased out most of the burning of low-value fibre that is usually associated with this work. When you consider the proximity of this work to homes and businesses, the benefits to human health are meaningful, not to mention the positive impact on the atmosphere.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

FESBC Awarded $50M for Fibre Supply Boost, Wildfire Risk Mitigation, and Job Support – Funding Applications Now Being Accepted

FESBC Awarded $50M for Fibre Supply Boost, Wildfire Risk Mitigation, and Job Support – Funding Applications Now Being Accepted

British Columbia – The Government of BC is providing $50 million in new funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to assist with the delivery of uneconomic forest fibre and to assist communities to reduce their wildfire risk. FESBC is now accepting funding applications. 

“Receiving $50 million in funding from the Province of British Columbia is a significant boost for reducing smoke and greenhouse gas emissions, and will also better protect communities from the devastating impacts of extreme wildfires. This investment will also create and maintain jobs for workers, provide stability in communities, and accelerate Indigenous participation in the forest bioeconomy,” said Steve Kozuki, Executive Director, FESBC.

Williams Lake Band grinding fibre for hauling; Photo Credit: Forest Enhancement Society of BC

This year, the eligible parties for this funding opportunity are:

  • First Nations (Bands, Treaty First Nations and Indigenous Governments with authority for lands and resources) in B.C.
  • Companies and forest tenure holders owned by First Nation governments or Indigenous entrepreneurs.
  • Small area-based tenures such as community forest agreement holders and woodlot licensees.
  • Forest tenure holders, log suppliers, or purchasers of non-sawlog fibre that don’t own or control a primary forest product manufacturing facility.
  • Ministry of Forests and other provincial agencies.
  • Local governments such as Municipalities or Regional Districts.

A document with details on the application process, eligibility criteria and a step-by-step guide on the next steps is now available on the FESBC website, titled FESBC 2023-25 Fibre Utilization Funding Program Guide.

Similar to last year, FESBC will be hosting a virtual information session, aimed at guiding potential applicants on the application criteria and the necessary steps to successfully submit a proposal through the online portal.

Gord Pratt, Senior Manager, FESBC, emphasized the importance of hosting an information session, stating, “Our goal is to ensure that potential applicants have all the information they need to apply for funding and submit successful applications. Based on the success of our last year’s information session, we recognize the value of offering face-to-face interaction with potential proponents. This upcoming information session will allow us to offer guidance and address any inquiries applicants may have, ultimately increasing the likelihood of success for both, the project and the applicant.”

FESBC 2023 – 2025 Fibre Utilization Funding Program Information Session

When: April 18, 2023 at 9 a.m. (Pacific Time)

Where: Online, via Zoom

Register: to register for the information session, please visit: https://bit.ly/3m3WlFz

For those who cannot attend the information session, a recording will be available to view on FESBC’s website the following day or by contacting FESBC Communications Liaison, Aleece Laird, at communications@fesbc.ca.

Proponents seeking funds to implement Wildfire Risk Reduction (WRR) activities may still apply through FESIMS. Refer to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) 2022-23 Funding Program Application Guide for more information.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

A Model of Success in Wildfire Risk Reduction

Granisle, B.C. – A project to reduce the wildfire risk for the Village of Granisle from future wildfire threats, through innovative and collaborative efforts by the Babine Lake Community Forest (BLCF) and the Village of Granisle, has successfully concluded. In 2020, with $401,450 in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), BLCF started working toward surrounding the village of Granisle with a mixed stand of deciduous trees less susceptible to forest fires than conifers. The work has been completed, and the BLCF is closing the loop on the work started in 2008 to address the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that benefit communities, workers, and the health of our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are building on this foundation with an additional investment of $50 million for the Society to expand funding for projects that increase access to fibre, reduce emissions from slash pile burning and reduce the risk to people from wildfire.”

Gord Pratt, RPF, FESBC Senior Manager, said, “This project was a great opportunity for FESBC to assist the Babine Lake Community Forest in reducing the wildfire risk to the community of Granisle, along with optimizing the use of fibre normally burned and their innovative forestry decision by planting birch into the forest for future stand diversification, meeting multiple objectives.”

While wildfire mitigation was the key objective, BLCF also had several diversified objectives. Peter Tweedie, General Manager, BLCF, and owner of Tyhee Forestry Consultants, noted that the most visible and economically evident objective was the timber resource. However, other objectives were targeted through the project, including consideration of visual resources such as the adjacent high-use recreation area of Babine lake, providing public education opportunities, and firewood for local users, minimizing impacts to existing recreation trails within the project area, managing future silviculture activities to foster food sources and botanic products such as berries and medicinal plants, and making the space available for cultural uses by First Nations and the public at large.

“Diversified forest management objectives respond to the variety of resource elements and resources, both, timber and non-timber, that are considered in the broader forest management process in B.C. We have to always remember that B.C.’s forests are more than just trees; the forested landscape is a mix of resources the public relies on,” said Tweedie.

He further explained that the challenge in this project was an additional objective of creating a long-term, self-perpetuating, low-maintenance wildfire buffer zone between the village of Granisle and the surrounding conifer-dominated landscape.

“The actual scale of the project was a challenge because we cleared such a large area so close to the community,” commented Tweedie. “By planting and establishing a deciduous forest, we were looking to form the nucleus for an element of deciduous forest, in this case birch, for future economical harvest to diversify our community forest’s product stream. We were also challenged in finding a suitable seed source for the birch as it’s not often planted in the local area, but we did and were pleased with the results.”

Birch was chosen to be planted, as this species has proven economic for higher-value products, and it has the benefit of being able to propagate or re-grow itself after cutting.

During the initial discussions for the project, the planning team worked to engage the community to ensure people were aware of the smoke that would be generated as a result of the pile burning.

“At the public meetings we hosted, the local citizens were made aware that there would be smoke, but that we would endeavour to reduce the impact of this smoke as much as possible,” said Tweedie. “The consensus was that although the smoke was not desirable, it was a short-term price to pay for a longer-term gain of the project and its success. In the end, the community in general was supportive and we appreciated their patience.”

Through the challenges, the Mayor and Councillors stood by to steadfastly guide, support and strongly advocate for the community and the forest.

“Mayor and the Council served as not just project initiators, but as guides, offering encouragement and support. This project would never have happened without the support and involvement of the Village of Granisle. In addition, the collaboration and support from the Lake Babine Nation, the Ministry of Forest, Nadina Resource District Manager and staff, and BC Wildfire Service out of Burns Lake as well as significant guidance from the regional wildfire office in Smithers ensured the success of the project,” Tweedie added.

Mayor Linda McGuire applauded the community involvement in the process as well, attributing a portion of the project’s success to their voice and input. “By being involved in this process, it demonstrated the willingness of our community to engage with the decisions from the onset. We would recommend any community considering wildfire mitigation to ensure they are at the table with their community’s voice and input,” said McGuire.

To McGuire’s point, the community was able to observe the entire wildfire mitigation project right from the beginning, including the logging, removal of logs to the mills, pile burning and lastly, the significant benefit to the community as the residual logs were cut and piled for the residents to use as firewood.

In completing the project, BLCF harvested 36,500 cubic metres (approx. 665 truckloads) of conifer sawlog and approximately 8,000 cubic metres (approx.200 truckloads) of roadside debris was moved to Pinnacle Pellet (now Drax) in Burns Lake. Furthermore, this project created employment for local First Nations and a positive perception of the BLCF because the concerns citizens had regarding wildfire were listened to and acted on.

“We, as a Village, want to highlight that such work can be done by others, and it is worth doing. The funding from FESBC was crucial in addressing wildfire mitigation in our community due to the limited budgets small, rural B.C. communities face each day. Without this funding, it would have been extremely challenging for our community to go it alone with only our taxpayers’ dollars,” said McGuire.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Small, Rural Communities in B.C. are Making Big Gains to Mitigate Climate Change

Procter and Harrop, B.C.: A small West Kootenay community forest is implementing an ambitious climate action plan that uses forest thinning to reduce wildfire risks while also reducing carbon emissions. With support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), uneconomic low-value fibre from mechanical fuel treatment projects is being shipped to a local pulp mill to avoid burning and to reduce the carbon footprint of operations. 

With an annual harvest of only 10,000 cubic metres (equal to approximately 200 truckloads), the Harrop-Procter Community Co-operative (HPCC) is one of the smallest community forests in the province. Despite its small size, HPCC has been a leader in demonstrating how forest management practices can be used to adapt to a changing climate while simultaneously working to reduce carbon emissions. 

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that benefit communities, workers, and the health of our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are building on this foundation with an additional investment of $50 million for the Society to expand funding for projects that increase access to fibre, reduce emissions from slash pile burning and reduce the risk to people from wildfire.”

Several FESBC-funded projects in the communities of Harrop and Procter have generated significant carbon benefits. Over the last three years, FESBC has funded portions of the transportation costs required for the Community Forest to ship low-value fibre to the local pulp mill and break even while doing so. With $94,429 of FESBC support, roughly 8,533 cubic metres of pulp logs that would otherwise be burned on-site, were instead hauled and utilized. The reduction in carbon emissions to the environment, as a direct result of this work, is estimated at 4,149 tonnes CO2e, which is equivalent to taking 890 cars off the road for one year.

“Eliminating slash pile burning is a low-hanging fruit for carbon initiatives,” explained Erik Leslie, RPF, HPCC’s Forest Manager. “The benefit is immediate because we’re avoiding emitting carbon, starting on day one. Our fuel treatment operations require the removal of lots of small diameter trees, and we don’t want to just burn them, rather we’re trying to use them instead.”

For the HPCC project, the cost per tonne of avoided emissions was $22.67, which is significantly lower than the costs of other greenhouse gas avoidance programs being offered in B.C. These projects are also aligned with other government priorities, including creating better outcomes that impact human health, in this case by choosing not to burn the 8,523 cubic meters of fibre resulted in the avoidance of approximately 20,000 kg of smoke particulates (P.M. 2.5) into the local airshed. 

The HPCC is a community-owned, not-for-profit with over 200 members and has been managing the 11,300-hectare Community Forest, one of the first community forests awarded in British Columbia, since 2000. 

In 2021, the Office of the Chief Forester partnered with HPCC, and using FESBC funds, planted 200,000 seedlings in the heavily burned area of the 2017 Harrop Creek fire with the goal of establishing tree cover quickly to help protect the long-term hydrology of the impacted watershed. The planted trees are also expected to continue sequestering carbon from the atmosphere over the coming decades.

“The Harrop-Procter Community Co-operative’s desire to reduce burning is shared by many citizens of B.C. We now have the tools to measure the greenhouse gas reductions by utilizing low-value fibre, and when we compare these results to burning fossil fuels or the carbon tax, this knowledge becomes both informative and powerful. Removing the equivalent of 890 vehicles off the road by using fibre we used to burn just makes sense,” said Brian Watson, RPF, Operations Manager with FESBC. “This Community Forest first showed us how small tenure holders can sustain value-added sawmills. Now, they are leading the way on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and it’s a great story.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Reducing Wildfire Risk Through a Holistic Approach

Quesnel, B.C. – the City of Quesnel, a municipality situated between the Fraser River and Quesnel River in the Cariboo Regional District of B.C., has been a trailblazer in making forestry more sustainable by undertaking innovative projects with support from Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding.

After years of the mountain pine beetle devastating the forests surrounding the city, and the Plateau Fire Complex which consumed 545,150 hectares of forest, the City of Quesnel took the opportunity to learn from the crisis and formed the Forestry Initiatives Program to advocate for the practice of sustainable forestry including proactive wildfire risk reduction.

With FESBC funding, the City has now assessed over 1,000 hectares in the surrounding area near Quesnel as outlined in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), prescribed and treated 230 hectares with crews conducting treatments by hand and with machines, and developed 200 hectares of additional “shelf-ready” prescriptions.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that benefit communities, workers, and the health of our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are building on this foundation with an additional investment of $50 million for the Society to expand funding for projects that increase access to fibre, reduce emissions from slash pile burning and protect people from wildfire risk.”

The work put in by the City of Quesnel in wildfire mitigation has been extensive. The City thinks of wildfire mitigation in three buckets: private property, wildland urban interface, and the approach zone. On private property, it is important to teach citizens how to coexist with wildfire by hardening their homes and making them more defensible to wildfire through programs such as FireSmart. In the wildland urban interface, or the area of transition between unoccupied land and human development, there are 34 areas as identified in the CWPP for fuel reduction treatments. And finally, the approach (or landscape) zone where the focus is on working with project partners such as the Ministry of Forests, the forest industry, and others to scale up fuel management to a landscape-level scale.

This kind of collaboration and holistic approach is what has made the City’s wildfire risk reduction initiatives possible, and successful.

“The collaboration spearheaded by the City of Quesnel with organizations and local residents has been constructive to build relationships between various stakeholders and industry. The importance of this collaboration cannot be underestimated as fuel management projects are expensive and there are significant areas that require fuel reduction treatments,” noted Roland Jarret, RPF, Site Supervisor for the Fuel Management program with the City of Quesnel.

While collaboration is highlighted as one of the many reasons for the City’s success in wildfire risk reduction, another is the City’s primary objective of ecological resilience. The work isn’t easy, nor is it without its challenges. One of the hurdles faced by the City has been to provide up-to-date training for the use of innovative logging equipment. The City shared that the sector faces a lack of trained operators to carry out complex forest operations which is crucial because innovative harvesting equipment, commonly used in Europe and Eastern Canada, allows for lighter touch, zero-waste, and other more diverse silvicultural treatments more effectively than traditional harvesting methods.

Former Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson, who is now on the Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council, highlighted how the City has not yet found someone to champion the training program, and that a lack of investment in training is a challenge for other communities throughout the province.

“You can talk about innovation, about making systemic changes, but to enable that to happen, you need to talk as early as you can about the human resource development aspect of any change – the available skilled labour force is small and will need to be grown and retooled through innovative training programs. For example, the necessary shift in forestry toward select harvesting with a lower environmental footprint while still extracting value will require us to have people trained almost to the level of a forestry tech running new, specialized equipment, as the equipment operators will have to decide, in the moment, which trees to cut, how, where, and when. But we don’t have this specialized workforce today,” said Simpson. “Everybody is talking about select harvesting with specialized equipment, but no one seems willing, as of yet, to build the necessary workforce.” 

The City is working diligently to find solutions to transform the industry into one that plans and manages ecosystems for ecological resilience. They are also continuing to work in the local forests to reduce wildfire risks which is where the FESBC funding comes in.

“FESBC funding has been critical for the City to advance the treatments we have done and has allowed us to foster some excellent partnerships,” said Simpson.

With over $1.7 million spent to date, FESBC funds have proven critical for the City of Quesnel to continue its grassroots wildfire risk reduction projects.

“Due to the long-term support from FESBC, the City of Quesnel has carried out extensive fuel management since 2018,” shared Erin Robinson, Forestry Initiatives Manager for the City of Quesnel. “Through our wildfire protection efforts, we have been able to advance innovative and ecologically sensitive logging operations that protect our community, strengthen our economy, and help the ecosystems we live within, get back to health.”

“We look forward to continuing our efforts with FESBC in the years to come,” noted Robinson. “By focusing on ecosystem restoration through innovative harvesting, enhanced fibre utilization, and creating meaningful employment in forestry through targeted local training.”

The City of Quesnel recently received an additional $500,000 in new funding from FESBC and is excited to keep the innovative forestry initiatives moving forward.

“Quesnel’s Forestry Initiatives Program is unique and is aligned with the purposes of FESBC,” said Brian Watson, RPF, Operations Manager with FESBC. “It’s great to see the staff at the City breathing life into the CWPP and we look forward to seeing the next round of treatments that have been supported from our funding commitment.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

A B.C. Community Co-operative Takes on Wildfire Prevention and Climate Change

East Harrop ridge fuel break. Photo Credit: Erik Leslie.

Procter, B.C. – A blazing wildfire in 2003 that prompted an evacuation alert, and grew to nearly 8,000 hectares, was a wake-up call for many Harrop-Procter residents. The community, located in the West Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia, was clearly at risk and there was much work to be done to protect homes and watersheds. However, focusing narrowly on wildfire risk reduction work was not sufficient for the residents. With climate change conversations moving to the forefront of public consciousness, the Harrop Procter Community Co-operative (HPCC) developed an approach that is present-mindful, and future-focused, not only with its wildfire risk reduction activities but in how it manages and sustains the forested landbase. 

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has funded a handful of projects in the community forest that have a climate adaptation theme. For over ten years, HPCC has been conducting fuel treatments in areas adjacent to the communities of Harrop and Procter. The Community Co-operative is developing a 12 km east-west network of low-elevation fuel breaks as well as two high-elevation landscape-level fuel breaks between watersheds.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that benefit communities, workers, and the health of our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are building on this foundation with an additional investment of $50 million for the Society to expand funding for projects that increase access to fibre, reduce emissions from slash pile burning and protect people from wildfire risk.”

The FESBC-funded components of HPCC’s work are integral to the fuel break between Harrop and Procter, as they connect to fuel breaks on the east and west sides. One project is in a 140-hectare forest stand that had been high-graded in the 1970s – meaning that previous harvesting activities removed only the most valuable timber and left the rest in the woods. The old high-grading removed Douglas-fir and larch, leaving small diameter, low-quality hemlock and damaged cedar, creating a very high fuel hazard and a forest maladapted to climate change.  Informed by the 2016 Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the Regional District of Central Kootenay Area E, fuel prescriptions were developed, and multiple treatments have been completed in priority areas. 

Selkirk College students at Kosma fuel treatment with Galen discussing fuel treatment activities in Harrop. Photo credit: Erik Leslie.

Using both manual and mechanical treatment techniques, these dense forests have been thinned, and fuel loads have been abated. Deciduous growth is being encouraged, and Ponderosa pine has been planted at low densities to diversify the forest and help adapt to a changing climate. 

“HPCC has been an excellent FESBC partner, delivering excellent value and achieving all of the FESBC goals by removing fuels from the forest in critical areas and going the extra mile to reduce burning from these operations. We could not be happier for the community and the people who work hard to manage the forest,” said Brian Watson, RPF, Operations Manager with FESBC.

The HPCC is a community-owned not-for-profit with over 200 members and has a long history of managing local watersheds to address community concerns and values. HPCC has now been managing the 11,300-hectare Community Forest since 2000.

Jennifer Gunter, Executive Director of the BC Community Forest Association applauded the contributions the HPCC has been making since its inception.

“As one of the original community forest pilots in B.C., Harrop-Procter is a leader in the community forest movement. Their dynamic and innovative work in climate change adaptive management with a focus on reducing wildfire hazard over the past 10+ years provides an important and practical example of how to integrate climate science and risk assessment into tangible forest management decision-making. Their willingness to engage and share their experiences are a motivation to the community forest network provincially, nationally, and internationally,” said Gunter.

Forest management in Harrop-Procter is focused on watershed protection as well as wildfire risk reduction and climate change adaptation. What started as a collective effort in the early 1990s to protect the watersheds from logging has evolved into a community organization taking responsibility for active forest management. Harrop-Procter’s ecosystem-based approach makes extensive use of partial cutting techniques and complex reserve designs to maintain natural ecosystem functions while diversifying forest composition and structure. 

The majority of the forests in Harrop-Procter are approximately 100 years old, having originated from large fires in the early 20th century.  After many subsequent decades of fire suppression, wildfire has returned to the landscape.  A 2003 wildfire burned several valleys south and west of the community forest. Then in 2017, another lightning-caused wildfire started in Harrop Creek, and the community was again put on evacuation alert. Half of the headwaters of Harrop Creek were burned in 2017 and water quality has since been impacted. 

Pretty results fall ’21 – Mechanical fuel treatment results in Harrop. Photo credit: Erik Leslie.

“Our forests are complex and dynamic ecosystems. We manage simultaneously for many values. We are extracting timber, and that is a primary economic factor in our work, but the starting point in our community forest is to protect the watersheds that everyone in Harrop and Procter drinks out of. Our focus is protecting our watersheds,” said Erik Leslie, RPF, HPCC’s Forest Manager. “Our ecosystem-based approach integrates wildfire risk reduction, protection of sensitive sites, and climate change adaptation.”   

HPCC has developed an applied climate change adaptation project designed to use the community forest as a case study of how to integrate climate science into tangible forest management decision-making. The project includes a detailed assessment of the risks of wildfire and drought to homes, water, biodiversity, and timber. It also includes an operations strategy that describes specific climate resilience and realignment practices, including identification of priority reserve areas, location of strategic landscape-level fuel breaks, descriptions of partial cutting techniques, and the development of fire- and climate-adapted stocking standards. 

As part of its community outreach activities, HPCC has developed a series of educational videos about wildfire risk reduction and climate change. The videos provide insights and perspectives from ecologists, forest managers, BC Wildfire Service personnel, and local residents: Climate Change and New Approaches to Wildfire Risk Reduction – YouTube.

HPCC has been a leader in the West Kootenays as it manages a wildfire risk reduction program year after year aimed at completing the risk reduction goals from HPCC’s landscape-level plans. 

“The work we are doing in Harrop-Procter is not a simple point-in-time intervention” explains Erik Leslie. “The fuel treatments are part of a larger strategy and a broader community conversation about climate change and ecosystem resilience. We, as a community forest, are trying to do our part and FESBC funding is helping us move the needle in the right direction.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Minister of Forests Announces 12 New Projects Funded by FESBC

Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the impacts of wildfire and climate change in British Columbia.

Through a provincial investment of $25 million, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has funded 12 additional community projects. This includes work to reduce wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and support forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

The 12 FESBC-funded projects are:

Projects in the Northeast Region:

Fort Nelson Community Forest, $257,250 – This funding is for a wildfire-mitigation project to create a fuel break by thinning a stand adjacent to both the community of Fort Nelson and the Alaska Highway.

Projects in the Cariboo Region:

Williams Lake First Nations, $1,573,110 – Preparing plans and implementing treatments in a landscape level fuel breaks that was identified through a local planning process.

Williams Lake Community Forest, $561,278 – Implementing thinning treatments to reduce wildfire risk while improving Mule deer habitat.

Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation Ltd., $2,000,000 – Creating landscape level fuel breaks and maximizing the utilization of fibre generated from the work.

Projects in the Kootenay-Boundary Region:

Nk’Mip Forestry LLP, $622,125 – Developing plans and implementing thinning treatments along the Mount Baldy access road.

The City of Kimberley, $400,000 – Understory thinning treatments in a sensitive wildlife area, which will create a landscape level fire break for Kimberley.

Nakusp and Area Community Forest, $356,207 – planning for and implementation of wildfire risk reduction treatments in the Wensley Creek recreation area near Nakusp.

Projects in the Thompson-Okanagan Region:

Ntityix Resources LP., $613,512 – Conducting hand thinning and pruning treatments in the Glenrosa area. This work builds on thinning treatments recently completed by the Westbank First Nation (WFN) crews within the WFN Community Forest.

Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $124,830 – Pile logging slash left created by logging to reduce the risk and spread of wildfire.

District of Summerland, $391,619 – Create plans for future fuel reduction treatments and manually thin stands in strategic locations within the district.

Projects in the South Coast Region:

The Cheakamus Community Forest., $635,095 – Hand treatments will be conducted on land adjacent to a subdivision in Whistler. This is a continuation of previously completed projects.

The Spel’kúmtn Community Forest, $183,456 – Local silviculture crews will be conducting understory hand thinning treatments in and around One Mile Park.

“FESBC is pleased to further support communities in reducing their risk of wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “Their thoughtful and collaborative approaches result in numerous additional objectives also being achieved at the same time with the same funding: improved wildlife habitat; greater forest recreation opportunities; local employment; community economic benefits; forests that are more resilient to fire, insects, disease and future climate change; and sometimes reduce greenhouse gases and improve Indigenous participation in the forest economy in British Columbia. We would love to see more communities and local organizations step forward with their ideas on how they can enhance their local forests.”

FESBC has approved 263 projects over the past five years throughout B.C. Sixty-three of the projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations’ involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development, which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s green economy. The projects funded through FESBC will help achieve these goals.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

FESBC is a Crown agency established to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating the effects of wildfire, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of greenhouse gases.

Contacts:

Ministry of Forests, Media Relations | 250 896-4320
Aleece Laird, Forest Enhancement Society of BC | 250 574-0221

Projects Underway in Cariboo Will Reduce Community Wildfire Risk, Enhance Forest Health

WILLIAMS LAKE – Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in the Cariboo region.

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is investing in 12 new wildfire risk reduction projects, including three in the Cariboo Region. The FESBC has approved a total of 34 new wildfire risk reduction projects to be completed by March 2024. These projects are reducing wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and supporting forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive
wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Understory Burn at Bond Lake Sept 2022.
Photo Credit: John Walker, RPF, Stewardship Forester

Wildfire-mitigation projects funded in the Cariboo include:

  • Williams Lake First Nation, $1,573,110 – preparing plans and implementing treatments in a landscape-level fuel break that was identified through a local planning process.
  • Williams Lake Community Forest, $561,278 – implementing thinning treatments to reduce wildfire risk, while improving mule deer habitat.
  • Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation Ltd., $2 million – creating landscape-level fuel breaks and maximizing the utilization of fibre generated from the treatments.

“FESBC is pleased to further support communities in reducing their risk of wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “Their thoughtful and collaborative approaches result in numerous additional objectives also being achieved at the same time with the same funding: improved wildlife habitat; greater forest recreation opportunities; local employment; community economic benefits; forests that are more resilient to fire, insects, disease and future climate change; and sometimes reduce greenhouse gases and improve Indigenous participation in the forest economy in British Columbia.”

FESBC has approved 263 projects over the past five years throughout B.C. Sixty-three of the projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development, which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s green economy. The projects funded through FESBC will help achieve these goals.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of the $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

FESBC is a Crown agency established to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating the effects of wildfires, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of
greenhouse gases.

Quote:

Chief Willie Sellars, Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN)
“Williams Lake First Nation is extremely pleased that the Forest Enhancement Society of BC has decided to support the WLFN Brunson Fuel Break project. This project will help protect Williams Lake First Nation and the City of Williams Lake from wildfire, allow us to enhance ecosystems and provide opportunities for employment and capacity development. We are grateful to deliver this project in partnership with FESBC and look forward to further collaborations in the future.”

Contacts:

Ministry of Forests, Media Relations | 250 896-4320
Aleece Laird, Forest Enhancement Society of BC | 250 574-0221

Read the press release issued by the Minister of Forests, here.

Projects Underway in Northeastern B.C. Will Reduce Community Wildfire Risk, Enhance Forest Health

FORT NELSON – Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in northeastern B.C.

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is investing in 12 new wildfire risk reduction projects, including one in northeastern B.C. The FESBC has approved a total of 34 new wildfire risk reduction projects to be completed by March 2024. These projects are reducing wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and supporting forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive
wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Fuel Treatment work undertaken by the Fort Nelson Community Forest.
Photo credit: Lorence Forsberg

The $257,250 wildfire-mitigation project is for the Fort Nelson Community Forest (FNCF) to create a fuel break by thinning a tree stand adjacent to both the community of Fort Nelson and the Alaska Highway.

“FESBC is pleased to further support communities in reducing their risk of wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “Their thoughtful and collaborative approaches result in numerous additional objectives also being achieved at the same time with the same funding: improved wildlife habitat; greater forest recreation opportunities; local employment; community economic benefits; forests that are more resilient to fire, insects, disease and future climate change; and sometimes reduce greenhouse gases and improve Indigenous participation in the forest economy in British Columbia.”

FESBC has approved 263 projects over the past five years throughout B.C. Sixty-three of the projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development, which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s green economy. The projects funded through FESBC will help achieve these goals.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of the $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

FESBC is a Crown agency established to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating the effects of wildfires, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of
greenhouse gases.

Quote:
Lorence Forsberg, board chair, Fort Nelson First Nation and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (FNFM/NRRM) Community Forest General Partner Corporation
“FNFM/NRRM Community Forest Limited Partnership is pleased to receive this funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC to conduct fuel-mitigation projects within the community forest. With this funding, the Fort Nelson Community Forest will support and invest in community wildfire prevention initiatives. This funding will allow the FNCF to implement its
mission of practising and modelling excellence in forestry stewardship relative to the protection of its partner communities from wildfire.”

Contacts:

Ministry of Forests, Media Relations | 250 896-4320
Aleece Laird, Forest Enhancement Society of BC | 250 574-0221

Read the press release issued by the Minister of Forests, here.

Projects Underway in South Coast Will Reduce Community Wildfire Risk, Enhance Forest Health

WHISTLER– Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change on the South Coast.

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is investing in 12 new wildfire risk reduction projects, including two in the South Coast Region. The FESBC has approved a total of 34 new wildfire risk reduction projects to be completed by March 2024. These projects are reducing wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and supporting forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive
wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Photo of the area around One Mile Lake where the Wildfire Risk Reduction work will happen;
Photo Credit: Spel’kúmtn Community Forest

Wildfire-mitigation projects funded on the South Coast are:

  • Cheakamus Community Forest, $635,095 – manual and mechanical treatments will be conducted on land adjacent to Wedgewoods subdivision north of Whistler.
  • Spel’kúmtn Community Forest, $183,456 – local silviculture crews will conduct understory hand-thinning treatments in and around One Mile Park near Pemberton.

“FESBC is pleased to further support communities in reducing their risk of wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “Their thoughtful and collaborative approaches result in numerous additional objectives also being achieved at the same time with the same funding: improved wildlife habitat; greater forest recreation opportunities; local employment; community economic benefits; forests that are more resilient to fire, insects, disease and future climate change; and sometimes reduce greenhouse gases and improve Indigenous participation in the forest economy in British Columbia.”

FESBC has approved 263 projects over the past five years throughout B.C. Sixty-three of the projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development, which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s green economy. The projects funded through FESBC will help achieve these goals.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of the $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

FESBC is a Crown agency established to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating the effects of wildfires, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of
greenhouse gases.

Quote:
Klay Tindall, forest manager, Lil’wat Forestry Ventures LP –
“The Spel’kúmtn Community Forest is a partnership between the Lil’wat Nation and the Village of Pemberton to promote reconciliation, increase community benefits from local resources and to be a local voice in the management of the forest, which encompasses 17,727 hectares of land around Pemberton and Mount Currie communities. We applied to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC for wildfire risk reduction funding to assist our community forest in conducting understory hand-thinning treatments in and around the One Mile Park area, a site frequented by members of the Lil’wat Nation, as well as many others for recreational purposes. Keeping people and important infrastructure safe, while being good stewards of the land to protect wildlife habitat, high cultural value areas and the traditional territory of the Lil’wat Nation, are our key focuses, and we are grateful for the funding to start the work.”

Contacts:

Ministry of Forests, Media Relations | 250 896-4320
Aleece Laird, Forest Enhancement Society of BC | 250 574-0221

Read the press release issued by the Minister of Forests, here.

Projects Underway in Thompson Okanagan Will Reduce Community Wildfire Risk, Enhance Forest Health

KELOWNA – Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in the Thompson Okanagan region.

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is investing in 12 new wildfire risk reduction projects, including three in the Thompson Okanagan Region. The FESBC has approved a total of 34 new wildfire risk reduction projects to be completed by March 2024. These projects are reducing wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and supporting forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive
wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Ken Beck, a forestry worker, is pictured igniting the debris piles using propane and a tiger torch; Photo credit: Mike Francis

The wildfire-mitigation projects funded in the Thompson Okanagan region are:

  • Ntityix Resources LP, $613,512 – conducting hand thinning and pruning treatments in the Glenrosa area. This work builds on thinning treatments recently completed by the Westbank First Nation (WFN) crews within the WFN Community Forest.
  • Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $124,830 – post-harvest piling and debris removal to enhance wildfire risk reduction treatments to improve wildfire resiliency for the area.
  • District of Summerland, $391,619 – create plans for future fuel reduction treatments and manually thin stands in strategic locations near the community.

“FESBC is pleased to further support communities in reducing their risk of wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “Their thoughtful and collaborative approaches result in numerous additional objectives also being achieved at the same time with the same funding: improved wildlife habitat; greater forest recreation opportunities; local employment; community economic benefits; forests that are more resilient to fire, insects, disease and future climate change; and sometimes reduce greenhouse gases and improve Indigenous participation in the forest economy in British Columbia.”

FESBC has approved 263 projects over the past five years throughout B.C. Sixty-three of the projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development, which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s green economy. The projects funded through FESBC will help achieve these goals.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of the $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

FESBC is a Crown agency established to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating the effects of wildfires, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of
greenhouse gases.

Quote:
Mike Francis, registered professional forester, Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society
“We are so pleased that the Forest Enhancement Society of BC has approved our project for funding. This funding will help us reduce fuel loading on areas following harvest to create a more fire resilient landscape that should reduce the risk of fire spread in the event of a future wildfire. In the past, funding from FESBC allowed us to assess our community forest’s land base and develop a plan and prescriptions for the management of our forest resources. Wildfire risk reduction treatments can get very costly, and the funding from FESBC is critical in ensuring that we are able to reduce the risk of devastation from wildfires for our community forest and our communities.”

Contacts:

Ministry of Forests, Media Relations | 250 896-4320
Aleece Laird, Forest Enhancement Society of BC | 250 574-0221

Read the press release issued by the Minister of Forests, here.

Projects Underway in Kootenay-Boundary Will Reduce Community Wildfire Risk, Enhance Forest Health

NELSON – Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in the Kootenay-Boundary region.

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is investing in 12 new wildfire risk reduction projects, including three in the Kootenay-Boundary Region. The FESBC has approved a total of 34 new wildfire risk reduction projects to be completed by March 2024. These projects are reducing wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and supporting forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Picture from Beaverdell fuel mitigation project that had similiar objectives to the Baldy Road project. The Baldy Project is anticipated to look like the above photos after completion of the treatment. 
Photo Credit: Peter Flett

The wildfire-mitigation projects funded in the Kootenay-Boundary region are:

  • Nk’Mip Forestry LLP, $622,125 – developing plans and implementing thinning treatments along the Mount Baldy access road.
  • City of Kimberley, $400,000 – understory thinning treatments in a sensitive wildlife area, which will create a landscape level fire break for Kimberley.
  • Nakusp and Area Community Forest, $356,207 – planning for and implementation of wildfire risk reduction treatments in the Wensley Creek recreation area near Nakusp.

“FESBC is pleased to further support communities in reducing their risk of wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “Their thoughtful and collaborative approaches result in numerous additional objectives also being achieved at the same time with the same funding: improved wildlife habitat; greater forest recreation opportunities; local employment; community economic benefits; forests that are more resilient to fire, insects, disease and future climate change; and sometimes reduce greenhouse gases and improve Indigenous participation in the forest economy in British Columbia.”

FESBC has approved 263 projects over the past five years throughout B.C. Sixty-three of the projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development, which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s green economy. The projects funded through FESBC will help achieve these goals.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of the $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

FESBC is a Crown agency established to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating the effects of wildfires, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of
greenhouse gases.

Quotes:
Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen
“Our vision for forestry in B.C. revolves around managing for community values, rather than simply fibre volumes. After visiting the work that Nk’Mip Forestry is doing in partnership with Vaagen, it’s evident this area is a great example of just that. Sustainable forest practices protect biodiversity, promote climate resiliency, support sustainable good employment in our communities and are vital for protecting our communities from wildfires. These projects will focus on local wildfire risk reduction and creation of economic returns for the communities, and do this while improving wildlife habitat, promoting Indigenous values and supporting safe, resilient forest recreation.”

Peter Flett, registered professional forester, Vaagen Fibre Canada
“A huge thanks to FESBC for providing this funding to Nk’Mip Forestry for the fuel-mitigation project along Baldy Road. It is an essential travel and emergency evacuation corridor between the Boundary region and South Okanagan, which was highlighted during last year’s Nk’Mip Creek wildfire. This funding will be utilized to reduce fuel loading on both sides of the road, while providing employment and training opportunities to Osoyoos Indian Band and local contractors.”

Dan Macmaster, fibre manager, Vaagen Fibre Canada, and community forest manager, West Boundary Community Forest
“Collaboration with Osoyoos Indian Band and traditional knowledge keepers is at the heart of this project. While fuel reduction is a primary objective along the corridor, we are also sharing the landscape with at-risk wildlife, such as Williamson’s sapsucker and ungulates. Taking direction from key personnel at the Band office and community members is imperative to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat, water and other cultural values is incorporated appropriately into the prescription and operational plans.”

Contacts:

Ministry of Forests, Media Relations | 250 896-4320
Aleece Laird, Forest Enhancement Society of BC | 250 574-0221

Read the press release issued by the Minister of Forests, here.

West Boundary Community Forest Takes on Five Wildfire Risk Reduction Projects

Midway, B.C. – With the infusion of new grant funding of $1,137,375 from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s (FESBC) 2022-2023 Funding Program, the West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF) has already started working toward proactively making the communities of Midway, Greenwood, Grand Forks, Rock Creek, and Westbridge safer from the threat of wildfires.

LP Martin and Nick Kleiner at Jewel Lake. Photo credit: FESBC

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, the critical work of FESBC is helping build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Dan Macmaster, RPF, Forest Manager with WBCF expressed what funding from FESBC means to the community forest.

“We are humbled and honoured that FESBC accepted our proposals; in the past, we received funding for fuel mitigation projects on the southern slopes of Midway, in May Creek outside of Grand Forks, and on the western shores of Jewel Lake. This funding allowed us to complete thorough and well-organized consultations with First Nations as well as local residents. We conducted fuel measurements and data collection to develop a prescription that focused on wildfire risk reduction in our treatments,” said Macmaster, adding, “The incremental costs of removing dead fuels in the adjacent forests can be costly, and FESBC has given us the ability to get the job done properly.”

The five new projects that have received funding are Myers Creek Road, Fiva Creek, Greenwood East, Lone Star Border, and Rock Creek South.

The Myers Creek Road project is on a road that runs parallel to the US border behind Midway, B.C. WBCF will be developing a shaded fuel break on each side of the road to protect the community from wildfires that could spread from the south.

The Fiva Creek project will involve fuel mitigation on a dense hillside north of Westbridge and adjacent to many homes. After WBCF’s selective cut, they plan to utilize local contractors to mechanically and manually rake and pile the remaining debris to ensure the fuels left in the forest are reduced.

The Greenwood East project is slated for the east slopes of Greenwood that have a buildup of fuel and requires understory thinning, slashing, hand piling and pruning to reduce the potential impact of future wildfires.

The Lone Star Border project will be located along the US Border, just west of Grand Forks, B.C., and this project will create a fuel break to help reduce the spread of fire and improve access for suppression crews.

The Rock Creek South project involves a small area in southern Rock Creek that contains dense fuels and dead beetle-killed trees. By removing the fuels and treating the green trees retained in the area, WBCF is hoping to protect the southern boundary of Rock Creek from future wildfires.

“Certain forested areas around many of our rural communities have been neglected over the years. This has allowed fuels in the forest, such as very high-density stands, ladder fuels, and woody debris to build up and for Douglas-fir beetles to run rampant. Once our Community Forest tenure was established, we realized these areas need to be better managed in order to protect our communities from wildfires as well as protect our tenure from forest health concerns. Local employment in the phases of layout, fuels treatments, and harvesting will benefit from this funding and allow us to keep local contractors working,” explained Macmaster.

FESBC Operations Manager Brian Watson, RPF, noted how great it is to see the community forest incorporating innovation into their harvesting activities.

“In these cases, they will be fully utilizing low-value fibre that would have been otherwise burned. These projects will achieve two of our funding priorities, to lower the wildfire risk while reducing greenhouse gases through better utilization,” said Watson.

Peter Flett, RPF with the WBCF, who has been actively involved in developing long-term relationships with First Nations noted that while the work for the projects is straightforward, it will involve the Osoyoos Indian Band through all stages to ensure they are comfortable with all the prescriptions recommended by the WBCF.

“Full participation and direction from the Osoyoos Indian Band will help to ensure our treatment efforts are in line with the values of our local First Nations on their traditional territory,” said Flett.

WBCF’s partnership with First Nations and its efforts to ensure their involvement in forest management is appreciated by FESBC.

“Putting people first, partnering with the Osoyoos Indian Band, and investing back in forestry-dependant communities in the Boundary Region are key reasons why working with the West Boundary Community Forest is so rewarding for FESBC,” added Watson. “We look forward to working with the team to complete these five new projects.”

Work has already begun and all of this work is being done not just to protect communities from impending wildfires, but also for several additional reasons according to Macmaster.

“We anticipate that this work will bring greater protection to our communities, while at the same time improving forest health, helping us employ local contractors, and working in collaboration with the Osoyoos Indian Band. These projects are a win economically, environmentally, and socially, and we’re so grateful for the funding.”

For an interview with FESBC contact:

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

B.C. Community Forests Take Action to Reduce Wildfire Risk

British Columbia – In the past few years, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has funded various project partners throughout the province with the primary objective to reduce wildfire risk. Many of these project partners, 25 in fact, have been community forests. This partnership has accounted for 53 projects valued at over $18 million of which $12.3 million was for wildfire risk reduction and $5.9 million for projects to reduce greenhouse gases, which have included enhanced fibre utilization and rehabilitating damaged forest stands.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, the critical work of FESBC is helping build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

(R-L) Minister Conroy, MLA for Nelson-Creston Brittny Anderson, and FESBC Chair Jim Snetsinger inspect a FESBC-funded wildfire risk reduction treatment in the Harrop-Proctor Community Forest, where some of the biomass was used to make green energy. Photo Credit: FESBC

A community forest is a forestry operation owned and managed by a local government, community group, or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community. FESBC Executive Director, Steve Kozuki, pointed out why FESBC and community forests work well together. “We both want to create as many values as we can in our projects. We not only achieve the main objective of reducing wildfire risk, but we often create numerous additional co-benefits such as enhancing recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gases, and generating employment for local people.”

The BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA), which represents many of these community forests, has seen the good work from FESBC’s collaboration with community forests. Jennifer Gunter, Executive Director of the BCCFA, highlights the importance of the partnership between FESBC and community forests.

“Support from FESBC has been instrumental in the success of wildfire risk reduction projects. With funding from FESBC, many community forests have been able to take meaningful action to make their communities safer, and their forests more resilient,” said Gunter.

Last month, during the BCCFA’s 2022 Conference & AGM, the Association celebrated its 20th anniversary and the work being done by community forests. “We were able to celebrate community forestry and the outstanding work of our members throughout the province. Community forests are effective tools for ecosystem resilience and community economic development, and our members constantly raise the bar. Community forestry, however, is not without its challenges. We are grateful for the support of organizations like FESBC that join us in working on solutions together,” Gunter remarked.

During the conference, Kozuki joined Jennifer Gunter, UBC’s Dr. Lori Daniels, Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz, and Kea Rutherford in discussing the important work of wildfire risk reduction and its efficacy in a session moderated by Logan Lake Community Forest Manager, Randy Spyksma.

Lori and her team spoke about the large amount of backlog of wildfire risk reduction treatments that remains to be done in B.C. Despite the significant efforts in the last number of years, only about 20 per cent of the work has been done so far. Lori noted that while $18 billion has been spent on seismic building upgrades in B.C., only a small fraction of that amount has been spent on wildfire risk reduction. Kozuki thanked the many community forests that have stepped up to reduce wildfire risk and for doing it in a way that achieves not only a multitude of additional benefits but also earns social license from local citizens.

Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR), is an example of a community forest that has undertaken wildfire risk reduction work that has provided an added layer of protection to the community while also generating numerous co-benefits. With funding from FESBC, NACFOR took on a project with the goals of improving public safety and reducing the risk of catastrophic loss of infrastructure from future wildfires in areas with high-to-moderate wildfire risk. The project created a series of strategically placed fuel breaks surrounding the community of Nakusp to act as the last line of defence against an approaching wildfire. The FESBC-funded project provided increased opportunities for local contractors with local dollars staying within the community, giving a boost to the local economy.

“The benefits of such wildfire risk reduction work in community forests are widespread,” noted Gunter. “Community forests are often situated in the wildland-urban interface and are increasingly becoming leaders in protecting rural communities from the risk of high-severity fires. Not only has this work contributed to keeping communities safe but, in many cases, it strengthens relationships between Indigenous and rural communities and has resulted in local employment, ecosystem restoration, and wildlife habitat enhancement.”

A community forest in Creston undertook wildfire risk reduction work which also gave a boost to the local economy through increased employment opportunities, providing work to at least 15 Creston locals who were involved in the development, planning, and implementation phases of the project. The project itself treated over 120 hectares on Arrow Mountain and approximately 10,400 cubic metres (approximately 230 truckloads) were harvested from seven areas, removing mistletoe, infected larch, and unhealthy Douglas-fir. The resulting state of the forest, according to Daniel Gratton, Forest Manager of the Creston Community Forest, is now similar to what would have existed when wildfires frequented the area prior to the introduction of the fire suppression programs in the early 1900s.

Fire suppression efforts of the last 100 years have resulted in some forests near communities across B.C. becoming overmature and/or very dense, making them more susceptible to wildfire. Many times, these types of stands have less value to wildlife and are less desirable for recreation activities. FESBC-funded projects in community forests have not only reduced the wildfire risk to communities, but they have also improved wildlife habitat, created local employment opportunities, and increased recreation values like camping, hiking, and biking.

One such project to reduce wildfire risk to the community which was undertaken by the Kaslo & District Community Forest Society (KDCFS), led to additional wildlife benefits that some people didn’t expect. An area resident, Doug Drain, whose house was adjacent to the forest area that was being treated, almost lost his house to a wildfire in 2012. This wildfire risk reduction treatment not only gave him peace of mind, but he said that opening up the forest had made a huge difference to the wildlife that live there. He has seen seven bears and two cubs as well as deer and elk that are back grazing in the area for the first time in many years.

This work was informed by a Landscape Level Wildfire Protection (LLWP) plan which KDCFS received a $50,000 grant from FESBC while Sabrina Mutterer and Jeff Reyden were co-managers of the community forest. According to Reyden, even though they both are from Kaslo, they hadn’t thought about the multi-level impacts of wildfires on the community or stakeholders involved until they started work on the LLWP.

The team started to plan for priorities focused on achieving immediate benefits in forest fire suppression and crew safety while outlining future fuel treatment projects and collaborating with the Regional District and BC Wildfire Service (BCWS). Engagement sessions involved discussions with BCWS and the local fire department to understand their needs in the event of a fire close to Kaslo, outlining what resources they had, what could be shared, what KDCFS could purchase, communications protocols, jurisdictional areas of who would respond where, etc. Not only did the plan inform the work done near Drain’s property but KDCFS ended up purchasing three fire pumps, hoses, and an inflatable bladder to fight a fire if need be.

“Community forest agreements are unique forest tenures that give communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, the ability to manage local forests for local benefit. They are in it for the long term with a mandate to manage environmental, economic, social, and cultural values. Partnering with FESBC on projects that reduce the risk of wildfire while supporting community values and advancing climate action is a win-win for communities and the province. We have been building a network of practitioners across the province who understand how to integrate these concepts and the experts with FESBC are integral to this process,” noted Gunter, pointing to the expertise FESBC operations managers bring to projects.

According to Gunter, as forest policy in B.C. shifts to support an increase in Indigenous and community-led forestry with a focus on value rather than volume, the active role of community forests in the movement toward reconciliation and innovating to integrate multiple values on the landscape, becomes clearer.

“Throughout the province, community forests demonstrate their leadership in implementing an inspiring vision for forestry that allows local communities to manage local forests in ways that generate many benefits,” said Gunter. “Our hope is that the partnership between the BCCFA and FESBC will continue to provide ongoing support and opportunities for community forests in our province. Together we are making our forests and communities more resilient ecologically, economically, and socially.”

For an interview with FESBC contact:

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

One Year Later: Logan Lake Community Forest Continues to Reduce Wildfire Risk to the Communities

LOGAN LAKE, B.C. – When Logan Lake became the first FireSmart community in B.C. in 2013 –a result of efforts starting back in the early 2000s– the community was preparing for any future wildfires through their wildfire risk reduction projects. Furthermore, the Tremont Creek Wildfire in August 2021 actually proved that the 18-year-long undertaking by the District of Logan Lake, the Logan Lake Community Forest (LLCF), and the residents of the town, to prepare for the wildfire event in advance, was effective.

This outcome has spurred the LLCF, in collaboration with the communities of Logan Lake and the Face and Paska Lakes area, into further action to step up the wildfire mitigation efforts through Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding.

Gord Pratt, RPF, FESBC Senior Manager said, “Logan Lake Community Forest started working on wildfire risk reduction treatments before anyone else in B.C. It has been a pleasure to support the Community Forest to complete such important work and see the FESBC funding reduce the wildfire risk not only to Logan Lake but to the nearby communities.”

One such project is the fuel management treatment project around the community at Face and Paska Lakes, located 15 km northeast of Logan Lake and within the LLCF. The area has unique wildfire-related risks with an isolated community of permanent year-round residents and seasonal tourists, many of whom come during the summer, the peak of a traditional wildfire season. Limited evacuation routes and the proximity of homes to forest fuels have increased the overall risk of a wildfire in this area.

“The area was identified in the Logan Lake Community Forest Wildfire Risk Management Plan (WRMP) as requiring attention and action, for which LLCF received $512,000 in follow-up funding from FESBC. The treatments will help reduce wildfire hazards through fuel reduction in areas directly adjacent to residential developments,” said Randy Spyksma, a Planner with Forsite, Manager of the Logan Lake Community Forest and Board Member with the BC Community Forest Association.

“This fuel work, being completed by Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corp., has the crews removing dead and downed woody debris in the area which can pose a significant wildfire threat to the community.  Recently, FESBC has also funded the development of a fuel management prescription in order to improve the resiliency of the main evacuation route, further investing in risk reduction efforts to help make these areas safer for people!” added Spyksma.

The priority fuel treatment work around the Face/Paska community is nearing completion and the fibre that couldn’t be utilized is being made available for firewood for the local community members. The planning work is now starting in order to reduce the wildfire risk along the evacuation route from the communities.

“FESBC’s support for fuel management treatments in the resort areas of Face and Paska Lakes will be key to reducing wildfire risks in this area,” said Garnet Mierau, RPF, planner with Forsite, part of the LLCF management team and the 75th council president for the Association of BC Forest Professionals.

Beyond timber and wildfire risk reduction, the projects undertaken by LLCF have been a good example of community engagement and collaborative work.  From the completion of the original WRMP and development of fuel management prescriptions to the implementation of the work, LLCF has engaged Indigenous communities, local groups, and the general public to ensure interests are balanced and there is a collaborative approach overall.

“Mile High Resort was invited to be a part of the original wildfire planning work and is appreciative of the Community Forest, funding from FESBC, and the support of BC Wildfire Service in the Face/Paska area. We now look forward to ongoing collaboration and actions to support wildfire resilience for the community,” said Bob van Tongeren, Owner Operator of Mile High Resort and Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation board member.

The work with van Tongeren is just one example of the collaborative efforts that have taken place as a part of work undertaken by the Community Forest.

“The scale of our engagement of the efforts was unique to British Columbia when we started work on the original strategic landscape-level WRMP followed by a fuel management program,” noted Mierau, “The engagement helped to proactively support a range of wildfire risk reduction activities.”

The Community Forest has also been instrumental in engaging with the education sector to support awareness and collaboration regarding the activities of the Community Forest in general, and specific to wildfire risk reduction. Over the years, LLCF has collaborated with Thompson Rivers University, the BC Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia (UBC) Tree Ring Lab, and the local high school in Logan Lake. This approach supports collaboration to better understand wildfire risk and how to design and maintain risk mitigation. 

“We are collaborating with academic organizations and investing in students, who are the future of forest management in community forests and across the province,” said Mierau.

LLCF is one of the 10 community forests with whom UBC has been collaborating to measure the efficacy of treatments that aim to mitigate hazardous fuels and reduce wildfire risk, confirmed professor, Dr. Lori D. Daniels.

“LLCF has demonstrated great initiative to connect with the local public and education through collaboration with other community forests and with us at UBC. Involving youth through paid summer positions is a great way to provide local job opportunities while mitigating fuels and generating a grassroots connection for public education. Leadership with the LLCF has engaged with multiple research projects at UBC, allowing us to document the barriers communities face when attempting to address wildfire risk and solutions for overcoming those barriers, which have now been shared with other Community Forests, municipalities, and First Nations communities throughout B.C.,” said Dr. Daniels. “We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with them!”

The LLCF recently applied to the FESBC 2022-23 Funding Program and has received funding for three new projects.

“There is definitely follow-up involved in these wildfire risk reduction activities; it is not a one-and-done deal and so, we will continue our work in reducing the risk of wildfires to our communities,” Mierau said. “It is great to have re-occurring funding, as we have thankfully experienced with FESBC, to support our work.”

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, the critical work of FESBC is helping build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

The three projects which LLCF will be undertaking through the FESBC funding are: 1) a project to develop prescriptions and treat areas near Logan Lake, creating a large landscape-level fuel break, 2) a project to complete the planning and preparation required to complete treatments along a corridor along the Coquihalla Highway to reduce the risk of human-caused ignitions from the highway, and 3) a project to finish the planning work required to complete a fuel-reduction treatment to support safer evacuation for the community at Face and Paska Lakes.

“FESBC has supported the Logan Lake Community Forest and the communities at Face, Paska, and Logan Lake since the beginning of our work, from supporting innovative and collaborative wildfire risk management planning work to the implementation of priority prescriptions and treatments. This new round of funding demonstrates that continued support,” said Spyksma.

For an interview with FESBC contact:

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221

For an interview with Logan Lake Community Forest contact:

Randy Spyksma, RPF, Manager, Logan Lake Community Forest | rspyksma@forsite.ca| 250.804.6305

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Wildfire Risk Reduction Work Amplifies Local Contractors and Opportunities

NAKUSP, B.C. – It is becoming more and more evident with every passing project that not only can a wildfire risk reduction project bring peace of mind to a community, but also has the potential for many additional benefits ranging from improving wildlife habitat to the generation of local employment. The Nakusp and Area Community Forest’s (NACFOR) wildfire risk reduction work, funded through a grant of $417,585 from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), is an example of this.

Wildfire Risk Reduction field review. Credit – Frances Swan

The goal of the project was to improve public safety and reduce the risk of catastrophic loss of infrastructure due to any future wildfires in areas with high to moderate wildfire risk, as identified in the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s (RDCK) Area ‘K’ and Nakusp 2018 Community Wildfire Protection Plans. The intention of the plan was to create a series of strategically placed fuel breaks surrounding the community of Nakusp to act as the last line of defence against an approaching wildfire.

The project, although not within the community forest tenure area but on Crown land just outside the village boundary, saw NACFOR take the lead to take on the work, with community safety at the forefront.

Gord Pratt, RPF, FESBC Senior Manager, said, “Nakusp and Area Community Forest has done an excellent job with the provided funding. NACFOR has taken their forest management role in this community to another level by delivering this project to reduce the wildfire risk for the residents of Nakusp.”

The FESBC-funded part of the project included two treatment areas – 30 hectares were completed in June 2022 and the remaining 2.2-hectare treatment unit will be completed next month, explained Frances Swan, RPF, Project Manager with NACFOR.

“There has been a very positive response to the completed treatment work and this area serves as a great example of wildfire risk reduction for Nakusp and area,” said Swan. “The project would not have happened without the FESBC funding.”

The treatments have reduced the ground and surface fuels that if ignited could lead to a crown fire, where the flames reach the top of the trees and fire can then spread rapidly. This work will reduce the fire intensity and rate of spread by reducing surface fuel loading which means decreasing stand density or thinning out the trees, plus also removing dead and dying ones. Access roads will allow for continued maintenance of the forest and improve suppression opportunities for firefighters needing to access the area along the highway.

“It complements the ongoing FireSmart initiatives as the areas are adjacent to the community and will be part of a series of strategically located treatment sites designed to defend the Village from wildfires,” explained Swan. “Our goal is to continue collaborating with the Village of Nakusp, RDCK, forest licensees and the Ministry of Forests to reduce the risk of wildfire in the Nakusp interface and surrounding communities.”

Another important outcome of the FESBC-funded project was to increase opportunities for local contractors.

“NACFOR is grateful that FESBC gave us room for flexibility on contractor selection and empowered us to do what was best for the environment and our communities. This meant we could amplify local contractors, create new opportunities and jobs, and contribute to the local economics of the community of Nakusp,” remarked Swan.

Given the flexibility in contractor selection, NACFOR expanded its pool of local contractors, allowing them to gain valuable experience in fuel management implementation, and provided several jobs locally.

“Being able to work on this project meant that local contractors were able to invest in specialized equipment and they are now prepared for any future wildfire risk reduction work,” Swan noted.

Gord Matchett, owner of Arrow Valley Excavating was one such contractor whose company saw tremendous growth because of the project. Matchett’s company was brought on to look after the work to thin the forest and help with wood fibre recovery, along with another contractor from Greenpeaks Resource Management.

“Getting the opportunity to be a part of this project was a good thing as it grew my business. I employed four people during this project; before, it was just me and now, I have a crew. I have been able to invest in specialized equipment which will come in handy in the future,” said Matchett.

For Matchett, it was important to be a part of the project as he believes in utilizing as much of waste wood and fibre as possible, instead of burning it in slash piles.

“People are starting to realize the need for wildfire risk reduction projects, and they see the value in thinning forests and cleaning the forest floor,” Matchett added.

In terms of numbers, Swan estimates a total of 480 person days worked for all projects under the FESBC funding (prescriptions and treatments) between June 2019 and June 2022. Nearly 90 per cent of the work was done with local contractors and consultants and prescriptions were developed for three treatment areas covering 200 hectares –approximately 374 football fields.

“It has been a great project, and feels good to be at the finish line,” remarked Swan.

Minister of Forests, Katrine Conroy, noted the importance of wildfire risk reduction work in supporting communities like Nakusp.

“We all play a role in building communities that are more resilient and adaptable to a changing climate,” said Minister Conroy. “The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks. Their proactive work supports our vision of building a safer, more resilient future for generations to come.”

For an interview with FESBC contact: 

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221 

For an interview about Nakusp & Area Community Forest:

Frances Swan, RPF, Project Manager | fswan@truenorthforestry.com | 250.265.3656

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Kamloops This Week – 2022 National Forest Week Publication Features FESBC Projects

This year’s National Forest Week, from Sep 18 to 24, was all about celebrating Canada’s Forests and their ability to contribute to climate change.

Kamloops This Week featured several stories in their 2022 National Forest Week publication featuring FESBC projects to help celebrate National Forestry Week. These projects are an embodiment of this year’s

National Forest Week theme: Canada’s Forests: Solutions for a Changing Climate.

The FESBC stories include:

 62 Indigenous-led forestry projects in B.C. (Page 2)

Reducing fire risk, enhancing forest health (Page 3)

Technology used to restore traditional land (Page 4)

Protecting a village and creating bioenergy (Page 10)

Forestry projects aim to reduce emissions (featuring FESBC’s Executive Director, Steve Kozuki on page 12)

Partnering up to create community safety (page 14)

 Steve Kozuki, Executive Director FESBC, on site of a wildfire risk reduction project funded by FESBC where the land has been treated to be more fire resistant and has kept communities safer

For more information and media enquiries, please contact:

Forest Enhancement Society of BC

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | 250 574 0221 | communications@fesbc.ca

Reducing Wildfire Risk in Kaslo Increases Community Safety

Kaslo, B.C. – When the Kaslo & District Community Forest Society (KDCFS) first applied to obtain funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), they knew of the long-term benefits their projects would bring, but little did they imagine the many additional and immediate benefits the funding would allow for.

Schroeder Creek fuel reduction and stand conversion project with the private residence in the background. Photo Credit – Sabrina Mutterer

FESBC funding of almost $185,000 went toward three projects; a Landscape Level Wildfire Protection Plan, Schroeder Creek Forest fuel reduction and stand conversion from hemlock to more fire and climate change resistant tree species of douglas fir and larch, and the Buchanan East Access hand treatment implementation to reduce a build-up of forest fibre in the area.

Through the Landscape Level Wildfire Protection Plan (LLWP), new roads to provide access for firefighters in the event of an emergency and fuel reduction projects were identified, which helped guide forest operations for almost three years. Through the implementation projects, KDCFS helped reduce the risk of wildfire not only for the community of Kaslo but for the property of a private landowner and the community of Schroeder Creek, all by reducing fuel loading in the forests close to them. Recreation values were also further increased in the Buchanan project, with a happy private landowner benefiting from the reduced fuel loading near their residence and driveway in the Schroeder project.

Gord Pratt, RPF, FESBC Senior Manager, said, “FESBC is very pleased we were able to assist the Kaslo & District Community Forest with their wildfire risk planning and treatments. This work contributed to reducing the wildfire risk to the Village of Kaslo and surrounding areas, plus providing local employment, and enhancing some of the important recreation features in the community forest.”

Of the three projects that KDCFS undertook with FESBC funding, the Schroeder Creek fuel reduction/stand conversion project, which was located next to the private land where the landowner’s house had almost burned down due to wildfire in 2012, made a substantial impact on the community, explained the manager of the community forest, Jeff Reyden, RPF.

“Schroeder Creek, which is 15 kilometres north of Kaslo, is where the private landowners almost lost their house because of a wildfire. Their driveway is one way in, one way out. Most of the area had over-dense, stagnant regen growth and a lot of forest fuel on the ground due to old high-grade logging,” explained Reyden. 

In the area, the forest had been logged in the 1970s and had regrown primarily with thick, immature hemlock. High winds in recent years had blown down many trees making the forest almost impassable on foot. In some areas, dead trees were piled nearly five feet tall.

Doug Drain and Helen Hird, the landowners, watched as the wildfire spread through the cedar stand on the steep slope of their property. While the wildfire was stopped before reaching the home through the efforts of the Kaslo Fire Department and BC Wildfire Services (BCWS), a delay in deployment or a shift in the direction of the wind could have had more devastating impacts. Since the wildfire in 2012, the site had become even more dangerous and susceptible to a potential wildfire.

Post-fire, the area was evaluated and designated as Extreme Fire Risk by BC Wildfire Service (BCWS). It was after this that Sabrina Mutterer and Jeff Reyden of the KDCFS applied for and received funding for fire mitigation in the area, including the Schroeder Creek community, for which Drain and Hird are thankful.

“Fire mitigation work has had a major effect on our lives, especially our peace of mind,” explained Drain. “Over the years we have lived here, we have feared what might happen with a tossed cigarette butt along the highway below us every summer, especially on long weekends. Watching the fire mitigation work, it was apparent that had a fire started, we had absolutely no hope of escaping alive. Fire mitigation does not mean fireproof, but at least now, with preparation, we have a fighting chance or at least a safe means of orderly retreat.”

The community forest divided the area into two treatment units (TU). TU1 was more mature timber with funding for post-harvest cleanup and pile/burn. TU2 was overly dense, skinny hemlock regen which was too small to fit on a logging truck, so the contractor skidded them (a process of pulling cut trees out of a forest using heavy machinery) to a burn pile. 

Connor Robertson, from Timber Ridge Contracting pictured piling debris.
Photo Credit – Kaslo and District Community Forest

“The FESBC funding allowed us to skid these trees and burn them concurrently with harvesting. If we had to do the harvesting first while piling the debris to be burned by another contractor, the piles would have been enormous, a potential fire hazard, and difficult to work around, costing the community forest and the grant funder significantly more time and money,” said Reyden.

The area will now be planted with fire-resistant species, with reduced stocking along the driveway, to provide a more fire-safe route back to the highway.

Drain noted that the project has also enhanced wildlife habitat. “Opening up the forest has made a huge difference to the wildlife that lives here. Spring now brings a huge crop of sweet clover just about when the bears wake up. This year we had seven bears and two cubs contentedly grazing on clover for a few weeks. We have deer and elk that were never here before as there was nothing to eat,” adding that most creatures seem to be thriving post-treatment.

The work also brought employment opportunities to local contractors. Shane McKinnon, owner-operator of Timber Ridge Contracting Ltd., pointed out that the work KDCFS was doing meant a steady stream of work for his company that allowed him to add two full-time employees, as well as hire local logging truck operators. He believes the work done by KDCFS was important for the community.

“Right now, we have options and time to plan our harvesting areas and access, and we need to take advantage of this because when there’s a fire close to our community, the planning has to happen fast. Creating access around our community is important for response times, and the work KDCFS is doing is vital,” said McKinnon.

The need for creating access was highlighted recently when a wildfire broke out near Kaslo just last month. Reyden, who got an opportunity to fly with the BCWS to assess the fire situation, noted that it was a little unnerving to see how fast and far the fire spread in one evening.

“When we see fire close to our community, people want to see bombers and choppers, but due to the terrain and the way the fire was burning these actions wouldn’t have been as effective as hoped. It’s a bit of a wake-up call in that fire can affect any community and can spread rapidly under the right conditions, and the best way to fight forest fires is by having access to enable crews to action the fire,” Reyden noted.

Minister of Forests, Katrine Conroy, understands the importance of this proactive work and is pleased to see the efforts put forth by the KDCFS in collaboration with so many community members.

We have a shared responsibility to help build communities that are resilient to the impact of wildfire and climate change,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “That’s why we invested an additional $25 million through FESBC this year so that local governments, Indigenous communities, and rural communities can deliver projects that lower the risk of wildfires and the damage they can cause. The proactive work they are undertaking is alongside historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service. Our shared efforts will ensure a safer and more resilient future for all British Columbians.”

“Kaslo residents have lived with fire for over a hundred years, with old pictures of Kaslo from the turn of the century showing barren, treeless hillsides as they had all been burned,” added Reyden. “Having access to fight a forest fire is crucial, as well as a coordinated effort between stakeholders to effectively fight the fire. The funding from FESBC has been essential in getting started on these efforts.”

For an interview with FESBC contact: 

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221 

For an interview Kaslo and District Community Forest Society contact: 

Jeff Reyden, RPF, Manager | manager@kaslocommunityforest.org | 250.354.9803

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Minister of Forests Announces New Projects Funded by FESBC

Projects underway in B.C. will reduce community wildfire risk, enhance forest health

A previously funded project by FESBC with the City of Quesnel > Dragon Towers.

Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the impacts of wildfire and climate change in British Columbia.

Through a provincial investment of $25 million, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has funded 22 new community projects. This includes work to reduce wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and support forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Wildfire-mitigation projects funded include:

  • Clinton District Community Forest of BC Ltd., $450,870 – Treatment of 300-metre-wide fuel break adjacent to the transmission line west of Clinton. Low-grade fibre will also be recovered.
  • Elhdaqox Developments Ltd., $500,000 – Wildfire risk reduction planning and treatments to reduce the wildfire risk to the Yunesit’in Community and rehabilitate burned and beetle-affected stands that will create local employment opportunities.
  • Eniyud Community Forest Ltd., $1,500,000 – Fuel management treatments to reduce the wildfire risk from forests affected by mountain pine beetle near Horn Lake and along Tatlayoko Lake, which is a vital main access/egress route for the local residences.
  • The City of Quesnel, $529,000 – Prescriptions and treatments will be conducted on specific sites identified for wildfire risk reduction in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Treatments will include thinning, pruning and debris cleanup while promoting fibre removal and utilization
  • Chinook Community Forest, $3,000,000 – Reducing fuel loading in areas heavily impacted by mountain pine beetle, which has created a considerable fire risk to communities on the south side of Francois Lake and near Rose Lake.
  • McLeod Lake Mackenzie Community Forest, $1,401,666 – Wildfire risk-reduction treatments along Highway 39, to create a safer egress corridor on the main road to and from Mackenzie.
  • Harrop-Procter Community Co-operative, $223,125 – Planning and treatment work on priority areas identified in a community wildfire protection plan. When finished, the work will create landscape-level fuel breaks around Harrop and Procter. 
  • Kaslo and District Community Forest Society, $89,980 – Fuel treatments conducted after a harvest will fireproof a stand close to Kaslo. Low-value fibre will be fully used.
  • Kaslo and District Community Forest Society, $98,150 – A manual thinning and pruning treatment will reduce fuel loading in a well-used recreation area close to Kaslo. 
  • Kaslo and District Community Forest Society, $41,520 – Work will be planned for an area that has been identified as a fuel break in a landscape-level wildfire plan.
  • Creston Valley Forest Corporation, $1,249,825 – The goal of the project is to develop plans and treat areas within community watersheds in and around the town of Creston.
  • Shuswap Indian Band, $664,724 – The project includes planning and treatment work in an area north of the Shuswap community. Fibre from the project will be fully used.
  • Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative, $500,000 – This project will focus on completing treatments on areas identified as high priority in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This work will build on recently completed projects.
  • West Boundary Community Forest, $1,137,375 – This funding is for five projects focusing on treatment to reduce wildfire risk including: two addressing forest-fuel buildup using both mechanical and hand treatments; two to treat forest stands after they’ve been harvested to prevent catastrophic wildfires; and one to create a safer evacuation route for locals and those visiting the community forest.
  • Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $60,323 – Wildfire risk reduction treatments on areas identified as priority treatment areas in their Wildfire Fire Risk Management Plan with the goal to enhance wildfire resiliency.
  • Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $129,381 – Manual treatments on area identified in its Wildfire Risk Management Plan that will enhance the wildfire resiliency of the community forest.
  • Silver Star Property Owners Association, $474,600 – Completing a combination of hand and mechanical wildfire risk-reduction treatment to reducing the wildfire risk along the main road in and out of SilverStar Mountain Resort.
  • Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation, $544,425 – Complete wildfire risk reduction treatments to reduce the wildfire risk to Steffens Estates subdivision located north of Lower Nicola Indian Band’s Mameet IR #1, approximately 17 kilometres north of Merritt on Highway 97C.
  • Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $746,550 – This project aims to develop prescriptions and treat areas near Logan Lake, creating a large landscape-level fuel break.
  • Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $127,050 – Complete planning and preparation required to complete treatments along a corridor along the Coquihalla Highway, leading to the reduction in risk to the highway, reducing the risk of human-caused ignitions from the highway spreading into surrounding forest.
  • Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $105,000 – Complete the planning work required to complete a fuel-reduction treatment to allow for a safer evacuation route for the community at Paska Lake.
  • Vermilion Forks Community Forest, $814,078 – A steep area close to the community of Coalmont will be thinned to create a fuel break.

“FESBC is thrilled that communities will be able to continue this important work to reduce their wildfire risk to better protect their residents and important infrastructure,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “These newly funded projects take a proactive approach to reduce the risks of wildfire and many will also improve wildlife habitat, increase the health of forests so they are more resilient to climate change and use the left-over wood waste to make green energy. Achieving multiple objectives is good forest management and good value for money.”

Work has already begun and all projects are expected to be complete by March 2024. To date, approved funding from the FESBC 2022-23 Funding Program totals $14 million. Additional applications through the FESBC portal are welcome and will be accepted until the $25-million fund has been allocated.

Since 2016, FESBC has supported more than 260 projects throughout B.C. Sixty-three of these projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations’ involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development. This will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s expanding forest bioeconomy.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is a component of $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

“Through provincial investments, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC has funded critical projects to help reduce wildfire risk and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Doug Routley, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests. “Diverting materials away from slash piles not only reduces fire risk but creates new opportunities in our province’s forest economy. These projects accomplish multiple objectives to help communities be more resilient to climate change.”

A Community Forest Reduces Wildfire Risk, Increases Employment

-A local project to protect communities led by locals-

Creston, B.C. – When the heat of summer hits, the focus of many people turns to the forests and the potential threat of wildfire to communities, important infrastructure, and transportation corridors.  Taking proactive steps to mitigate the risk of wildfire can help better protect communities and bring a higher level of comfort to many, which is exactly what the Creston Community Forest (CCF) has done.

With a grant of $670,000 from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), the CCF was able to target an area on Arrow Mountain, three kilometres north of Creston B.C., to reduce the risk of wildfire to the neighbouring communities of Creston and Wynndel. The project site at Arrow Mountain, also known to locals as Goat Mountain, is popular for hiking, off roading, and hunting, and accessed by a Forest Service Road.

“We were very thoughtful in our planning and in the treatment of the area,” noted Daniel Gratton, Forest Manager of the CCF. “We opened the forested area up by taking out some of the unhealthy trees and we left a good number of trees behind. Then we had a crew come in and do the cleanup work of gathering up some of the small bushes and shrubs – called the understory – to be piled and burned.”

The project treated over 120 hectares on Arrow Mountain. Approximately 10,400 cubic metres was harvested from all seven blocks and mistletoe, infected larch, and unhealthy Douglas-fir were removed. The resulting state of the forest is now more like what would have existed when wildfires frequented the area prior to the introduction of the fire suppression programs in the early 1900s. 

Forest Manager, Daniel Gratton in completed treatment area. Photo Credit: Creston Community Forest

“A lot of people don’t know it, but wildfires used to go through the Creston Valley and through the forests every 30 to 40 years,” said Gratton. “Many of the forests we see in our area today are not what they would have been 200 years ago because we’ve removed the occurrence of wildfires. What we are trying to do now is mimic what a wildfire would do; clean up the understory, take out some of the ladder fuels, and restore the ecology of the area.”

Since completion of this project, the community forest has now identified several other blocks that need this mitigation work.

“The Creston Community Forest has taken on a leadership role in their community, taking action, reducing the risk of wildfire to the community, and doing good forest management at the same time,” said Gord Pratt, RPF, FESBC Senior Manager. “They are finding the balance between forest management and wildfire risk reduction activities to meet the many needs of the public in the area.”

The project also saw outstanding economic benefits to the community extending beyond wildfire protection and created a steady source of income for many locals.

“The funding from FESBC helped provide employment to at least 15 locals who were involved in the development and planning phase, and the implementation to facilitate the piling, chipping, slashing, and burning,” said Gratton.

Jim Macaulay of Macaulay Forestry Ltd. has worked in the Creston area for 27 years and was thrilled with the opportunity the project brought to his company.

“It is very good working with local licensees to be able to complete this type of work. It’s beneficial to the surrounding community as we are trying to minimize the impact if we were to have a wildfire, so it won’t be so severe,” said Macaulay, adding, “We have nine employees on the payroll right now and the project supplied us with nine to 10 months of full-time employment.”

Macaulay’s crew was involved in completing the slashing, piling, and burning on the majority of the project site and they even assisted the BC Wildfire Service, the Creston Fire Department, and the community forest on two broadcast burns, which are controlled burns that take place under specific conditions.

“We all worked very well together,” said Macaulay. “The project got different parties working together and it was fantastic!”

Another contractor working on the project was Lance Huscroft of Northspar Holdings Ltd, who also echoed the sentiments shared by Macaulay.

“It has been very enjoyable working so close to home on these projects with the community forest,” said Huscroft, who has been logging in the area for 28 years. “We’ve all appreciated being able to work so close to our homes to be close to our families, to get to town quickly for parts, and then back to the job site should something break-down. In the process, we supported local businesses for our service/parts needs and hired a local mechanic and trucking contractor. The majority of the timber was also shipped to the J.H. Huscroft sawmill in Creston.”

Summer Student, Erich Endersby standing on fully treated area.
Photo Credit: D. Gratton

For Gratton, the success of this project is defined by the areas treated and the employment of locals.

“It was extremely important to have received funding from FESBC,” concluded Gratton. “We wouldn’t have done this amount of work and in such a short period of time without it. Quite honestly, it is something that was very important to us, but economically, I don’t think we would have been able to carry out this work in these areas, so we are grateful.”

For an interview with FESBC contact: 

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221 

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Boundary’s Wildfire Risk Reduction Project a Model of Collaboration

Greenwood, B.C. – After receiving a grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF) led a project to create a fuel-treated area near a popular Boundary recreational area adjacent to Jewel Lake, while also adding recreational value to the community. The project, which was undertaken in an area 20 minutes north of Greenwood, moved forward thanks to a $254,100 grant from FESBC on a 32-hectare area. The project has just wrapped up and has brought to the forefront what successful collaborative efforts can look like in B.C.’s forests. 

Example of completed wildfire risk reduction treatment in the Jewel Lake area.
Pictured are members of the community touring the prescription with RPFs from WBCF. 

“A lot of collaboration from many partners were a hallmark of this project,” said Dan Macmaster, RPF, Forest Manager of the WBCF. “The local residents were involved in the initial planning and the cleanup we are finishing up now. We had great support of BC Parks, Vaagen Fibre Canada (Vaagen), and the Osoyoos Indian Band showing what can be achieved when we work together.” 

Jewel Lake Environmental Protection Society, a local society led by residents of Jewel Lake, supported the WBCF’s vision for the project, recognizing that the Community Forest’s objective was to care for the forest and protect important infrastructure, like homes, recreational trails, and camping sites. 

“Dan, together with the forest professionals at Vaagen, involved the local residents of Jewel Lake in the development of their plans right from the start. They listened to our concerns, implemented many of our ideas, and led field trips when requested,” noted Jewel Lake resident, Randy Trerise. “The partial cutting treatment has reduced the fuel load in the forest, and we expect the treatment will improve the safety of our homes should a wildfire take place in the future.”

The Osoyoos Indian Band provided post-harvest treatment work, which included contributing to parts of the mechanical and manual treatment activities.

“Vaagen and the West Boundary Community Forest involved our Band in all aspects of planning and mitigation work. Our forestry team assisted with the manual treatments needed to ensure the area was protected in the future from a major wildfire,” noted Vern Louie, Forest Manager, Osoyoos Indian Band.

The Band was also involved in the initial work and design of the project itself. 

“It was a very strong effort by the West Boundary Community Forest, to meet the goal to reduce the wildfire risk to the community while collaborating and addressing recreational and other aesthetic values in the forest,” noted Gord Pratt, RPF, FESBC Senior Manager. “From the start, it was all about collaboration and they showed openness and great leadership in realizing the important outcomes of the project.”

For the project itself, fuel mitigation was the key objective. Over the years, the area had seen major accumulation of blowdown and dead standing trees, increasing the risk of a wildfire spreading rapidly through the area. 

“This is in an area that is on the Southern tip of our province and it’s an area of hot dry weather,” said Pratt. “The forest type in the area is very susceptible to wildfire and this project has decreased the likelihood of a devastating impact from a wildfire to the community surrounding Jewel Lake. 

Another major challenge for the area was the fuel accumulation around a single access road for residents and visitors in and out of the area. 

“Because of the ‘one road in, one road out’ predicament, our focus was to prioritize the reduction of wildfire risk immediately closest to the houses and the road,” said Macmaster. “By doing this work, we can buy more time for residents to get out and firefighters to come in if there is a fire. None of this would have been possible without the funding from FESBC.”

The area was also enhanced and made safer for visitors who frequent the area for camping, fishing, hiking, etc. 

“In that entire area, there are all kinds of recreational trails the public cares strongly about. So, we are not only maintaining, but improving that recreational infrastructure with new trails, new signage, and interpretive signs to teach people about the local plants, trees, and wildlife,” added Macmaster. 

In total, the community forest was able to remove 40 loads of small-diameter logs and pulp, which would have otherwise been burned, but instead was sold to local mills. The project also relied heavily on the local workforce with approximately 20 people involved through all stages, a boost to the local economy. And while the initially funded project’s objectives have been met, the WBCF will now continue maintaining the area.

“Just the sheer volume of fuel that had accumulated in the area, was why we needed FESBC to be involved, as we needed the financial support to help us clean up the area,” noted Macmaster. “We are proud that, moving forward, we will continue adding on to the work we were able to do with the FESBC funding.”

For an interview with FESBC contact: Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221 

For an interview West Boundary Community Forest contact: Dan Macmaster, Forest Manager | dmacmaster@vaagen.ca | 250.528.0344

About FESBC: the purposes of FESBC are to advance environmental and resource stewardship of B.C.’s forests by: preventing and mitigating the impact of wildfires; improving damaged or low-value forests; improving habitat for wildlife; supporting the use of fibre from damaged and low-value forests; and treating forests to improve the management of greenhouse gases. As of March 2021, FESBC has supported 269 projects valued at $238 million, in partnership with the governments of B.C. and Canada.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Province provides update on wildfire season, latest seasonal outlook

Minister Katrine Conroy hosts the BC wildfire outlook and preparedness update

British Columbians can expect a transition to warmer and dryer conditions in July, signalling an increase in overall wildfire risk and fire danger ratings as the season progresses.

As shown in the BC Wildfire Service’s latest seasonal outlook, current wildfire activity is minimal and concentrated in the northern half of the province, where recent rainfall has been minimal. Cool and wet conditions through June in the southern half of the province have tempered overall fire activity.

Watch the BC wildfire outlook and preparedness update with Minister Katrine Conroy

To help protect British Columbians from wildfires, applications are open for $25 million for community projects that reduce the risk of wildfires. The Province is providing the funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).

“Last year, we saw just how devastating fire season can be to communities and how critical it is to invest in wildfire prevention,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Cultural and prescribed burning and forest thinning are proven approaches to reduce wildfire risks. I recently visited Williams Lake and saw firsthand how the Forest Enhancement Society of BC is working with its partners to deliver projects like these and help build more resilient communities.”

The Province’s investment in FESBC supports community projects that reduce wildfire risk and enhance wildlife habitat, greenhouse gas reduction, forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

Projects include:

  • harvesting and removing beetle- or fire-damaged trees to reduce wildfire risk and rehabilitate the land base;
  • thinning trees, removing underbrush, pruning trees and other fuel management techniques; and
  • the creation of emergency wildfire escape routes for communities.

FESBC has supported 263 projects throughout B.C., and 43 of these projects have been in partnership with First Nations. These projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created approximately 2,200 jobs.

“Working with local communities to reduce their wildfire risks makes a lot of sense, because they know how to manage their forests to achieve numerous co-benefits to create win-win projects,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “They are not only protecting their communities, but at the same time with the same funding, they also enhance wildlife habitat, create recreation opportunities, increase ecological resiliency of forests, use the biomass to make green energy, and more.”

The $25 million provided to FESBC is a component of $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

This is the largest investment in the history of the wildfire service and is helping to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service, shifting from its reactive mode to a more proactive approach. It will enable the BC Wildfire Service to focus on all four pillars of wildfire management: prevention and mitigation; preparedness; response; and recovery.

Quick Facts:

  • FESBC is a Crown agency established in 2016 to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by:
    • preventing wildfires and mitigating wildfire impacts;
    • improving damaged or low-value forests;
    • improving wildlife habitat;
    • supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests; and
    • treating forests to improve the management of greenhouse gases.

Learn More:

Read more about the July Wildfire Seasonal Outlook: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/wildfire-situation/fire-weather  

BC Wildfire Service mobile app:

Apple (iOS), download directly from the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/bc-wildfire-service/id1477675008?ls=1

Android, download directly from the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ca.bc.gov.WildfireInformation&hl=en

Read more about the FireSmart program and the seven FireSmart disciplines at: https://firesmartbc.ca/

Forest Enhancement Society of BC: https://www.fesbc.ca/

Lower Nicola Indian Band Creating Community Safety through Partnerships

MERRITT, B.C.— With the support of close to $250,000 in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), the Lower Nicola Indian Band (LNIB) removed dangerous trees and reduced wildfire risk in two areas close to the city of Merritt, BC.

The two locations border the edge of both Merritt and the Lower Nicola Indian Band Reserve Lands. Lindley Creek is located south of the Nicola River, south of Lower Nicola; and Fox Farm is located on the north side of the Coquihalla highway just east of Merritt on Fox Farm Road.

Crews from Shulus Forest Enterprises Inc., a company owned 100 per cent by the LNIB, did all the manual treatments of these sites including tree pruning, spacing, falling, bucking, piling, and burning, covering about 20 hectares at Lindley Creek and 11 hectares at Fox Farm.

Bruce Morrow, RPF, Bruce Morrow Forest Consulting Ltd., who submitted the application for funding to FESBC on behalf of LNIB, noted that the project was important because forest fuel treatments will make the area safer for wildfire suppression crews accessing the area in the event of a wildfire.

“Spacing of trees to reduce crown closure, pruning to remove ladder fuels to reduce the risk of crown fires, and reducing the amount and continuity of ground fuels will all contribute to reducing wildfire risk, and allow wildfire crews to respond faster,” said Morrow.

The Fox Farm community is located halfway up a steep hillside. The forested area below has been subject to wildfire suppression for over 60 years, resulting in a significant accumulation of dead and downed fuels.

“About 40 per cent of the trees were dead standing or lying on the ground ready to burn, creating a high fire hazard for a one-way in, one-way out community,” said Morrow. “We created a situation where hopefully a fire in the area will now move along the ground instead of through the crown. This will make it easier to fight and reduce the risk of structure loss from ember spotting onto the nearby houses from a crown fire.” 

Don Gossoo, General Manager, Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation (LNIBDC) said the crews employed an average of six people from the community who are trained in the use of hand tools for this type of forestry work.

“The work at the Fox Farm area was done downslope of several large properties adjacent to the Coquihalla Hwy. where someone could toss out a lit cigarette etc. The residents there were happy to see the work done,” said Gossoo.

“Lindley Creek is a corridor from the forest down to the valley where there are more houses,” noted Morrow. “The local winds and topography create a funnel in the Lindley Creek drainage, which can push wildfires downslope toward the homes at the bottom of the treatment area.”

Similar work being done in the area on reserve land and adjacent Crown land is being funded through the Community Resiliency Investment Program and the Cascades Resource District. Morrow noted the project is a great example of collaboration and cooperation in recognizing an issue and working together to protect the community.

“We are leaving behind a much happier forest ecosystem. Dry belt trees compete for moisture and nutrients and the trees there were competing for these and weakening each other. The trees left behind are healthier and more resilient to drought, pests, and weather because there’s less competition.”

Gossoo described it as taking a stagnant coniferous jungle and turning it into parkland, adding nutrients, sunlight, and moisture to the stand.

“This type of project provides socioeconomic benefits to the community through employment opportunities, and an environmental benefit in improving overall forest health.”

Stu Jackson, Chief of the Lower Nicola Indian Band said projects like this one have multiple benefits to the community.

“They provide employment opportunities, improve safety, and help support healthy forests. We look forward to more partnership opportunities like this which enhance communities overall.”

Gord Pratt, FESBC Operations Manager, highlighted the importance of completing this work in support of addressing high-risk areas identified by Merritt’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan and the BC Wildfire Service.

“This is a multi-benefit proposal to the community, the forest, and the area as a whole,” said Pratt. “This project aligns with FESBC purposes, provides employment, and is exactly what we want to support in terms of rural communities working to implement wildfire risk reduction projects.”

The project also had the full support of the local Resource District and BC Wildfire Service. FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

For an interview with FESBC contact: 

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca| 250.574.0221

For an interview with the Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation contact:  Don Gossoo, General Manager | don.gossoo@lnibdc.com | 250.315.9277

FESBC Awarded $25 Million in Funding to Help Protect Communities from Wildfire Risk

British Columbia: With $25 million in new funding from the provincial government, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is launching its FESBC 2022-2023 Funding Program today. FESBC will be accepting applications to fund projects that will assist the Province of British Columbia in reducing wildfire risk and increasing community resiliency to wildfire across B.C.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, this new funding for FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

Steve Kozuki, RPF, FESBC Executive Director, explained what this funding would mean for the work undertaken by FESBC to reduce wildfire risk throughout the province, and said that it was encouraging to see more people realizing the benefits of protecting communities from wildfire risk.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is thrilled with the funding announcement, and we are looking forward to seeing applications for projects focused on reducing wildfire risk throughout the province,” said Kozuki. 

FESBC has previously helped to reduce wildfire risk in 120 communities across the province. 

Many of these projects have also gone above and beyond the primary objective of reducing wildfire risk and have identified additional outcomes that have proven beneficial to communities.

“Our favourite wildfire risk reduction projects not only reduce the risk of wildfire but also improve wildlife habitat, create recreation trails, increase the health of the forest so they are more resilient to climate change, and use the left-over biomass or wood waste to make green energy,” noted Kozuki. “Achieving multiple objectives is good forest management and good value for money.”

When it comes to wildfire risk reduction work, typically, communities will start by creating a wildfire risk reduction plan. The plan identifies infrastructure and priorities that need to be protected such as homes, buildings, water, power, communications towers, safe gathering places, escape routes, etc. Next, areas of risk are identified; oftentimes, these can be thicker or more dense forests near communities that might throw embers into the air if the forest catches on fire during a drought. 

Then, after consulting with the citizens and considering other values such as wildlife habitat, recreational amenities, visual aesthetics, climate change, and so on, treatment prescriptions are written by forest professionals. FESBC funds all of these project activities from start to finish.

“In our five-year history, we have helped Indigenous communities, municipalities, regional districts, woodlots, and community forests take action to protect their communities from wildfire,” said Kozuki. 

This year, successful applicants will receive funding to undertake activities that fall under at least one of the three criteria: 

  • Wildfire Risk Reduction planning and treatment prescription development
  • Wildfire Risk Reduction treatments
  • Recovery and utilization of low-value residual fibre resulting from wildfire risk reduction treatments funded by FESBC

Gord Pratt, RPF, FESBC Senior Manager said, “The primary purpose of our work is to assist the Province in reducing the wildfire risks to the people of B.C.”

A document with details on the application process, eligibility criteria and a step-by-step guide on next steps is available on the FESBC website, titled FESBC 2022-23 Funding Program Guide.

FESBC will host a virtual information session that will guide proponents on the criteria FESBC wants to see in the applications, as well as on the steps that need to be taken to put together an application through the online portal. 

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC wants all good projects to succeed, and the information session will help people get the information they need to enable them to submit excellent proposals for our consideration,” said Pratt. “The information session is there to help them be successful.”

For those who cannot attend the information session, a recording will be available to view on FESBC’s website the following day or by contacting FESBC Communications Liaison, Aleece Laird, at communications@fesbc.ca 

FESBC 2022 – 2023 Funding Program Information Session

When: June 28, 2022 at 2 p.m. (Pacific Time) 

Where: Online, via Zoom

To register for the information session, please visit: bit.ly/FESBCFunding 

Applications will be accepted through the Forest Enhancement Society Information Management System (FESIMS) starting on June 20, 2022. The on-line FESIMS portal will remain open for applications until all the funds have been allocated. Proposal evaluations will begin July 11, 2022. Funding applications will be required to clearly demonstrate that all activities under the proposal will be fully completed and invoiced by March 15, 2024. Interested proponents are encouraged to visit www.fesbc.ca and to click the Applying for Funding tab for details on how to apply through the FESIMS system.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

For an interview with FESBC contact: Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221 

About FESBC: the purposes of FESBC are to advance environmental and resource stewardship of B.C.’s forests by: preventing and mitigating the impact of wildfires; improving damaged or low-value forests; improving habitat for wildlife; supporting the use of fibre from damaged and low-value forests; and treating forests to improve the management of greenhouse gases. As of March 2021, FESBC has supported 269 projects valued at $238 million, in partnership with governments of B.C. and Canada.

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Province provides funding to reduce community wildfire risks, enhance forest health

To reduce wildfires in higher-risk communities, the B.C. government is providing $25 million in new funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).

This investment will support community projects that reduce wildfire risk and enhance wildlife habitat, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, forest recreation and ecological resiliency. Applications for this funding will open on Monday, June 20, 2022.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, this new funding for FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”

FESBC has supported 263 projects throughout B.C., and 43 of these projects have been in partnership with First Nations. These projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created about 2,200 full-time-equivalent jobs, among other outcomes.

“Our government is working together with First Nations and local communities to reduce the risk of wildfires so we’re better prepared for climate change,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “This investment is an important part of our upcoming Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy to support more resilient communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide job opportunities for people. By increasing actions, such as cultural and prescribed burning, we’re using powerful tools that can help reduce wildfire risk and improve ecosystem health.”

Since 2017, FESBC has funded the use of 4.8 million cubic metres of wood fibre that otherwise would have been burned in slash piles or abandoned. The combined GHG benefits of FESBC fibre use, tree planting and fertilization projects is 5.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent sequestered or avoided, which has the same GHG benefit as taking 1.1 million cars off the road for a year.

“Many Indigenous communities, municipalities, regional districts, woodlots and community forests have taken action in the last few years to protect their communities from wildfire,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “They reduced the risk of extreme wildfire near buildings, communications infrastructure, water supply, power, safe place, and emergency escape routes. This funding will enable more communities to do this important work.”

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash-pile burning by 2030 and will increasingly divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development. This will reduce air pollution and GHG emissions, while creating new economic opportunities.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is a component of $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC. This is the largest investment in the history of the wildfire service and is helping to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service, shifting from its reactive mode to a more proactive approach. This will enable the BC Wildfire Service to focus on all four pillars of wildfire management: prevention and mitigation; preparedness; response; and recovery.

Learn More: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022FOR0038-000957