Executive Director’s Newsletter Jul. 2022

We have developed this monthly newsletter to curate the good news stories we share throughout the province featuring FESBC-funded projects which are generating excellent economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Stories are shared in collaboration with our project partners to highlight the exceptional work happening in our forests to reduce wildfire riskenhance wildlife habitattake action on climate change, and more.

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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.

Faces of Forestry: Frances Swan

Faces of Forestry is an initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. This month, we feature Frances Swan, RPF, Operations Forester for Nakusp and Area Community Forest.

Frances has deep roots in the Kootenay region and has called Nakusp her home since 1997. Her appreciation for forestry and love for the community have always been fundamental parts of her life.

“Looking back, I can appreciate that my dad was a forester and inherently understood the concept of sustainable management long before it became practice, so it was easy to follow in his footsteps,” said Frances.

Frances then completed a Diploma of Forest Technology from Selkirk College, a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Northern British Columbia and a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from Royal Roads University.

Frances is the Operations Manager of Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR). In her role, she manages a broad range of strategic and operational projects and supports PR and communications strategies.

Since 2008, NACFOR has operated successfully as a BC corporation owned by the Village of Nakusp and is part of the BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA). Its operations are contracted, primarily with local contractors, and have delivered numerous benefits to the local community.

As an RFP with more than 20 years of project management experience in the natural resource sector, Frances has worked with FESBC as the recipient lead on several projects in Nakusp. Frances and the team at NACFOR have been able to deliver projects focused on wildfire risk reduction treatments and fibre utilization.

“Working with FESBC has been a very positive experience. Through direct and leveraged funding, FESBC has supported NACFOR to take a collaborative approach to reduce the threat of wildfires, while building local capacity to carry out fuel treatments,” said Frances.

During her career in forestry, Frances has volunteered with many local and regional organizations, from ski coaching to economic development. As the community forest manager, she combines resource stewardship with local land-use decision-making that reflects community priorities and values. Frances currently sits on the BCCFA Board of Directors.

“Forest management is a complex process, with many moving parts. It requires a thoughtful, balanced approach to land and resource use, as decisions made today will have enduring outcomes,” said Frances.

Celebrating 134 B.C. Forestry Projects Taking Action on Climate Change

-A Review of Projects Supported by the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund-

British Columbia – In a report released today, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has published information on the stunning outcomes of the Province’s $150 million investment under the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund (LCELF), showcasing the tremendous progress made through this fund toward the Government of Canada’s targets under the Paris Agreement.

In 2017, the Provincial government deployed $150 million of its $290 million in funding from the federal government to FESBC, as a part of the federal government’s made-in-Canada climate plan. The LCELF is an important part of the plan and leveraged investments in projects that generated clean growth and reduced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 

Minister Katrine Conroy on a field trip in Williams Lake.
Pictured are (LtoR) Ken Day, Brian Banfill, Katrine Conroy, and Jim Snetsinger.

“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner that delivers on-the-ground forestry projects that protect people and communities from wildfires,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Our investment in sustainable and innovative forestry projects strengthens our ability to prepare and adapt to the impacts of climate change that put our forests and communities at risk. I recently visited Williams Lake and saw firsthand how the Forest Enhancement Society of BC is working with its partners to improve forest health, reduce carbon emissions, and protect BC communities.”

Provincial Forest Carbon Reforestation Project. Photo: Mike Madill

Through the LCELF funding, FESBC provided grants to 134 projects throughout the province to create 1,300+ full time-equivalent jobs*, plant 66 million trees*, and sequester approximately 4.2 million tonnes of CO2e by 2050*, which is equivalent to 904,000** gasoline-powered vehicles off the road for one year. Through these projects, FESBC met the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the forest sector and increase the capture of carbon through the restoration of forests damaged by disease, insects, and wildfire, under B.C.’s Climate Leadership Plan.

The report highlights nine of the projects, examples of tree planting, fertilization, and increased utilization of wood waste.

“We are in alignment with the Province of BC, the Government of Canada, and the United Nations in recognizing that forestry is a significant nature-based tool we can use to take meaningful action against climate change,” said Steve Kozuki, Executive Director, FESBC. “This report showcases the impactful work undertaken by our project partners and the long-term benefits that these projects will bring to the province.”

To read the full report, follow this link: bit.ly/TakeActiononClimateChange

*with LCELF Funding since 2016 **SOURCE: calculation-greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator (US Environmental Protection Agency)

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.

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.