District of Houston

Wildfire reduction project to create legacy fund

Money coming from timber sales profits

The ongoing large-scale project to reduce the risk of a wildfire sweeping into the community from the Buck Flats area will also have an additional benefit —a legacy fund for the District of Houston for related forestry or silviculture work.

Although the District of Houston has a $1 million grant from the provincial Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. agency to establish fireguards and make the area less prone to the possibility of a wildfire, it also received a forest licence to log, sell and move mature timber in order for the fire reduction work to take place.

And it is this revenue, minus expenses, which would then be used to set up the legacy fund.

Scott Rowsell, from Pro-Tech Forest Resources in Telkwa, the company hired by the District to manage the project, briefed council members at their March 16 meeting.

Revenue from timber sold paid for planning and supervising the forest licence but is also being used for silviculture and related work where overlapping of fire reduction activities financed by the enhancement society grant made sense, he said.

As to the legacy fund itself, it might be used for additional work in the Buck Flats area once main activities have included or other projects.

Financial information provided by Rowsell indicated timber sales, with Canfor being a prime customer, came to $787,000.

Invoices have yet to be submitted and tallied for the work being financed by the timber sales but, based on estimates, the District’s legacy fund could have a starting balance of just over $371,000.

“All remaining [timber sales] revenue [after expenses] will be retained by the District of Houston as a legacy fund to be used on similar projects for the community and held within a dedicated reserve fund,” said District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

Rowsell told council work begun last year to rid the area of fuel potential and to establish fireguards will intensify this year in preparation for re-planting next year.

“The intent is to create a fire-resistant stand by establishing a mixed coniferous/deciduous overstory to reduce crown fire potential, while also encouraging an understory with minimal surface fuels,” he said in briefing notes.

Pine will be the coniferous species while birch will be the deciduous one.

Seeds have already been purchased and Pro-Tech is working with the Woodmere Nursery just outside of Telkwa to grow seedlings.

Rowsell said the planting contract will be let this fall with a preference given to a local contractor.

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