Fuel mitigation project described as complex

Pandemic had stalled work along Buck Flats Road

The manager of the $1 million project to rid 1,300 hectares of fire-prone trees along Buck Flats Road says that while the project was stalled this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans are in place to revive work.

Brad Layton from Telkwa-based Pro-Tech Forest Resources is looking for crews to prepare sites containing waste and other material for burning.

“Everything got put on hold because of COVID,” said Layton of the project which is being undertaken by the District of Houston through a grant from the provincial Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC).

“Piling debris and building fireguards,” he added of the work plan. “We did some prep work for burning last year.”

Layton describes the project as multi-layered, involving public sector agencies and private companies with an overall goal of getting value for what is being logged while reducing forest fuels which would pose a hazard to the District should a wildfire break out.

“It’s been complex from Day One,” said Layton of the project, planning for which began almost two years ago.

He listed the District of Houston, FESBC, private companies, First Nations, the B.C. Wildfire Service, the provincial BC Timber Sales agency and the forests, lands, natural resource and northern development ministry as being involved.

Layton added that local forests, lands, natural resource and northern development ministry officials as being particularly helpful.

The project was prompted by a 2018 District of Houston study which outlined the risk of prevailing winds from the southwest driving a wildfire toward the District was identified as a significant risk.

When cleared of conifers and material, the plan is to replant the area with deciduous species such as birch or poplar which are not as conducive to burning.

Canfor has been taking logs from the area with Corwood Timber taking other fibre and Pinnacle’s Houston Pellet Plant taking other residue.

Layton anticipated that work, when it resumes, will go well into the next year.

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