Fuel mitigation projects in the 100 Mile House Forest District are going ahead despite recent mill closures, says district manager Patrick Byrne.
“All of the fuel mitigation work that we’ve been trying to spearhead and push forward has been in collaboration with communities and forest companies. We need everyone at the table to figure out how this stuff works.”
However, the curtailments have had an impact, says Byrne.
“We’ve had a number of projects that we certainly were looking forward to Norbord being able to go out and access and manage and we hoped that that would contribute to their fibre supply needs as well. Of course, that’s not on anymore. So, once we heard of the curtailments, we started looking for other options. So there are a couple of projects that we’re going forward with this year that were identified as Norbord opportunities and we’re probably gonna be looking at another opportunity through BC Timber Sales or a local collaboration between some consultants and contractors,” says Byrne. “We’re not letting it slow us down. We’re going forward.”
On Sept. 17, the provincial government announced that it would be making $15 million available to establish a new short-term forest employment program, focused on fire prevention and community resiliency project.
“[Those funds] are gonna be targetted to shovel-ready projects that the regional offices have ready to go. The purpose of that is to create short term opportunities for contractors, opportunities for local workers to get some access to employment and do the important work that needs to be done in the communities,” said Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, on Sept. 18, adding that details were still being finalized.
They’re trying to get projects going as fast as they can because there are community members anxious to see the work happen and are giving as much flexibility to the regional offices as they can, he says.
IMAGE: An example of fuel mitigation work. Submitted photo, 100-Mile Free Press.