Burns Lake Community Forest Ltd.

Northwest Fire Centre

The Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF) has 3  projects with an allocation of $400,000 in funding and generating  675 total person days of employment:

  • BLCF Prescribed Fire Program: PFU1a and 1d – Prescribed Fire
  • BLCF Fuel break and Hazard Reduction Phase 1 – Operational Treatment
  • BLCF Fuel break and Hazard Reduction Phase 2 – Operational Treatment

The stands within each treatment unit are pine/spruce-leading. Many of these stands are either occupied by dead and downed mountain pine beetle killed wood or they are re-forested (10-25 years old) and not scheduled for harvesting as they are part of the future forest, currently in the reforestation and regrowth stage. Some sections of pine beetle damaged wood are scheduled for harvesting, however, within the prescribed fire units. Those units not operationally feasibly for harvesting given the terrain and topographical challenges. The condition of the forest and the fibre in these areas are such that the blow down is up to 15 years old and there is not enough value in the fibre to warrant a harvesting treatment, yet something must be done to control and reduce the risks associated with the volumes of fuel.

The BLCF advertises the Prescribed Fire Program in the local newspaper (at least 2 ads prior to implementation of the plan), posts notices on the BLCF and Village Facebook sites, and hosts an Open House  with BCWS prior to the light up of prescribed fires.  They also develop and circulate public notification in collaboration with BCWS (i.e. info bulletin, poster, newspaper ads, flyer to circulate). They hire Shifting Mosaics Consulting (http://shiftingmosaics.com/) and their prescribed fire team to provide logistical, technical, and implementation support.  They partner with BCWS to ground-truth appropriate containment lines, to properly contain the prescribed fires to the units for treatment.

Dr. Sonja E.R. Leverkus PhD RPBio RPF PAg EP, Ecosystem Scientist, AFE Certified Wildland Fire Practitioner  and founder of
Shifting Mosaics Consulting shiftingmosaics.com  said this about the prescribed fire and the collaborative wildfire risk reduction work in Burns Lake:

“Led by the Burns Lake Community Forest in partnership with the BC Wildfire Service, Nadina District, and our company Shifting Mosaics Consulting and our professional prescribed fire crew from Northern Fire WoRx, we have successfully built a program that is reducing wildfire risk, employing local community members, empowering and engaging cultural practices of indigenous fire, and truly putting fire back out on the land in a good way.

The re-coupling of humans and fire in the Burns Lake Community Forest is one that should be considered as provincial leading and an example for others to follow.  Cultural burning and indigenous fire management are recognized as important in natural resource management, and they are integrated fully into the planning and application of fire within the Burns Lake Community Forest. Creativity in the management regime and the application of fire in the  working forest around the community of Burns Lake is needed to reduce wildfire risk.  While some may view prescribed fire as risky, we have been committed to full engagement with all of the communities in the area and with neighbours who may experience smoke at certain times of the year from our activities.  We have sought to minimize the impacts of smoke using appropriate ignition during the correct venting indices and closely monitoring the weather prior, during, and after all of our operations.

The critical foundation of this program lies within the collaborative relationship between our entire team and is made possible by the dedication and commitment of Frank Varga of the Burns Lake Community Forest and his team of forest professionals and the commitment of the BC Wildfire Service in particular, the Nadina Wildfire Officer, Brad Blackwell.  Under Brad’s thoughtful and considerate leadership, we have successfully implemented one prescribed fire which while small in size was huge in training, building local logistical and operational expertise. Brad is the true definition of a collaborative partner as is the Northwest Fire Centre.  District Manager Beth Eagles has equally been a supporting contributor to the entire process from the foundational review of burn plans to ensuring all appropriate land management aspects are addressed.

In my opinion, the example we have set collaboratively with our work that was funded by the Wildfire Risk Reduction program is one that is exemplary in planning, logistics, implementation, human connection, and trust.  It takes leaders and visionaries to come together to create and safely execute a plan that involves applying fire to the land.”

Pius Charlie an elder and trapper of the Tsʼil Kaz Koh First Nation or the Burns Lake Band

gave a land blessing before the prescribed fire was ignited. 

Links to more news on the treatments

ttps://blcomfor.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Burns-Lake-Community-Forest-Prescribed-Fire.pdf

https://twitter.com/bcgovfireinfo/status/1380631479445692422

http://bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca/hprScripts/wildfirenews/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=3306

Frank Varga, manager of the BLCF had this to say about the news of the funding: “BLCF is dedicated to increasing wildfire resilience in the BLCF area base, while also providing community protection and remaining an operational forest – all through both ecological and cultural lenses allowing us to achieve multiple objectives and a unified vision across this landscape.  This recent funding will allow us to continue striving towards that vision and our collaborative goals of wildfire risk reduction and landscape resilience.” read more 

Sonja and Frank in the field

 

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