Too soon to assess timber damage: province

Over 70,000 hectares of Morice TSA fall within perimeters of wildfires

With the worst of the wildfire season now seemingly over, many people are concerned about what impact these wildfires are having on the timber that supply the region’s largest employers.

READ MORE: Worst may be over for ‘B.C.’s worst fire season’

According to the provincial government, however, it’s still too soon to assess the damage.

“The amount of timber volume impacted within these areas cannot be accurately determined until the fire damage is mapped and assessed,” explained the ministry in a statement. “It is too early to determine the potential impacts caused by the current wildfire season.”

The timber volume loss due to wildfires is estimated annually by the ministry, and accurate damage assessments for the Morice timber supply area (TSA) will be revised once the current wildfire season is over.

As of Sept. 3, 2018, 72,504 hectares of the Morice TSA fall within the perimeters of 2018 wildfires; of this total area, 48,640 hectares are classified as timber harvesting land base.

Michelle Ward, Canfor’s director of corporate communications, also says it’s too early to know what the impact will be for their Houston mill.

“Canfor is still focused on supporting the firefighting efforts and hoping that this wildfire season comes to an end soon,” she told Houston Today.

When asked about the local rumours saying the mill would shut down because it’s running out of timber, Ward said these rumours are “unfounded.”

“Our Houston mill is continuing to operate,” she said.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said timber supply is one of the main concerns he has heard from local residents.

“The feds need to understand that the biggest economic leg on our table just got hammered,” said Cullen. “We just lost a lot of wood, and in places like Burns Lake, Houston and Fort St. James, that has to be figured out.”

Mills in the Lakes TSA are anticipating some damage to their timber supply.

According to Steve Zika, Chief Executive Officer of Hampton Lumber – company that owns Babine and Decker Lake Forest Products, this year’s wildfires will “definitely have a negative effect” on lumber availability in the Lakes District. But he agrees that it is too early to make any estimates on the actual effect.

“We, like everyone else are just praying for rain,” he told Black Press last month.

As of Sept. 3, 2018, 175,770 hectares of the Lakes TSA fall within the perimeters of 2018 wildfires; of this total area, 47,780 hectares are classified as timber harvesting land base.

B.C.’s current wildfire season is now considered the province’s worst wildfire season on record, with over 1.2 million hectares burned.

READ MORE: 2018 now B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record


 

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