Wetzin’kwa Community Forest

Summary


Wetzin’kwa Community Forest is located in the Northwest Fire Centre.

Wetzin’kwa has four projects approved with an allocation of $253,654 in funding and generating 342 total person days.

  • Hudson Bay Mountain Road Fuel Break A – Prescription Development has been submitted for final payment – 62 ha.
  • BVNC/Seymour Ridge Fuel Break – Prescription Development is underway – 89 ha
  • Hudson Bay Mountain Road Fuel Break B –  Prescription Development has been submitted for final payment – 117 ha
  • Hudson Bay Mountain Resort Fuel Break A – Operational treatment – 89 ha

“We have been hard at work on the Wetzin’kwa WRR prescription development projects as well as collaborating with BCWS and FLNRORD on adjacent WRR projects within the community forest. We have pulled together a small media team internally who will be helping to produce our public engagement materials.

As an example our team quickly pulled together a short video this past winter highlighting a collaborative WRR project with Mountain Resorts Branch. The video can be viewed below. Our media team will be out capturing prescription development material over the next few weeks. We’re excited to see what they produce as they have significantly increased their capacity to produce this material, have more lead time to gather footage, and have some great ideas for content.” – Shane S. van de Water, BSF, RPF, Wildfire Risk Reduction Officer, Wetzin’kwa Community Forest

The prescriptions and treatments conducted under funding from the Crown Land Wildfire Risk Reduction Funding (CLWRR) administered through the BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA) make up a shaded fuel break along Hudson Bay Mountain (HBM) Road near the northern community of Smithers, BC in the Bulkley Valley.

Collaboration

“The funding provided by the BCCFA for prescription development and implementation allowed WCFC to provide work for local contractors, including a Wet’suwet’en contractor, and helped to increase local knowledge and capacity when it comes to WRR treatments. The completion of this work also helps provide continuity of work to contractors. Over the 2 years that this funding was utilized, the WRR crew has gotten to a point where they can successfully accomplish work with less oversite and have consistent workers available to complete this work. As a small area-based community forest tenure holder, WCFC is proud to work together with provincial and local organizations to improve and promote community resiliency and protect important community values.” Aurora Lavender, RPF, MFC, General Manager, Wetzin’kwa Community Forest

WCFC employed a local Wet’suwet’en contractor to complete treatments and worked closely with Mountain Resource Branch (MRB), Hudson Bay Mountain Resort, BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), and the District of Skeena-Stikine (DSS) to design prescriptions and complete treatments. WCFC worked closely with BCWS to develop these prescriptions to fit 90th percentile fire weather conditions, and BCWS provided a great deal of feedback throughout their development to ensure that they were in line with provincial standards. These treatments align with DSS goals for WRR in the Bulkley Valley WUI and help to ensure protection of key community resources.

Program Successes

WCFC successfully developed 3 prescriptions and began treatment of 51.3ha under this funding. We were able to bring most of the Hudson Bay Mountain Resort WCFC/Mountain Resource Branch Fuel Break to completion except for burning treatments due to dry fall conditions. WCFC was able to utilize $661,215 of this funding before the end of the funding window in October of 2022.

The goal of this project was to reduce landscape level fuel loading by reducing surface fuel loading, stand thinning and dead overstory removal. The areas that WCFC was able to treat under this funding along Hudson Bay Mountain Road were targeted for fuel management due to the hazardous stand types in the area, the proximity to the Town of Smithers, and the protection of local assets. The prescriptions developed and treatments implemented through this project will help to mitigate the risk of wildfire to key community forest resources, a small cabin community upslope, and recreational infrastructure, as well as providing access and egress routes for fire crews in the event of a wildfire event.

It should be noted as well that it would have been very difficult for WCFC to complete these prescriptions alone. Community forests across the province are working very hard to reduce the risk of wildfire to communities and it is amazing to hear about the work that is being done province wide to support these initiatives. Thank you to the BCCFA, BCWS and the CLWRR program for funding this essential project and helping to reduce community wildfire risk across the province!” Aurora Lavender, RPF, MFC, General Manager, Wetzin’kwa Community Forest

Treatment Area: Hudson Bay Mountain Road

In 2019, the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation (WCFC) created a Strategic Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Plan (SWHMP) with funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC). The objective of this comprehensive plan was to build a framework for incorporating fire and fuel management planning into the community forest’s operational activities and work towards implementing prescriptions, as well as providing a base-line analysis of wildfire risk. The plan identified several areas within or connected to the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) within WCF in high-risk areas to prioritize wildfire risk reduction efforts, as well as one area directly adjacent to the WCF below Hudson Bay Mountain Resort.

Hudson Bay Mountain Road is a key piece of local infrastructure for residents of the Bulkley Valley, and its protection helps to ensure protection of local values. It provides vital connection to recreational areas for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and a variety of other activities, and allows for access to our local ski hill, Hudson Bay Mountain Resort, and the Bulkley Valley Nordic Centre. Hudson Bay Mountain is home to functional subalpine and alpine ecosystems from grizzly bears to endangered whitebark pine and is an iconic landscape feature in the Bulkley Valley and the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest.

The creation of a shaded fuel break along HBM Road in WCF, as recommended in WCFC’s SWHMP (2019), aims to balance values across the landscape in this high recreational use area of the community forest.  In follow-up to the SWHMP recommendations, WCFC applied for the CLWRR funding to develop several prescriptions and begin the implementation of the shaded fuel break and was awarded $663,500 through this program. From 2021-2022, WCFC was able to utilize this funding to prioritize prescription development and subsequent treatment of these areas.

Photos

 

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

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