Open letter to Hon. Doug Donaldson, MLA
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you, having so many people’s homelands, properties and natural resources impacted by the many wildfires in and around the Lakes District, specifically the Verdun, Cheslatta and Nadina wildfires; which continue to burn this day. (not to exclude others like Topley etc…)
As you are aware since late 90s and early 2000 the province of B.C. has been impacted by the massive Mountain Pine Beetle infestation, which has killed 80 per cent plus of the pine within the Lakes Timber Supply area. The dead standing timber and the timber which has started to fall over creates a huge wildfire risk and has created unprecedented wildfires throughout B.C., the like never seen before.
Burns Lake this year has really dodged a bullet, had either of the above noted fires been on the north side of Francois Lake, the results would have been even more catastrophic, (no disrespect intended to those impacted on the south side). The devestation would mimic those fires that impacted Slave Lake, and Fort McMurray, Alberta.
For the last couple of years I’ve been a Director on the BC Community Forests Association, and for several years I’ve advised government on the hazards we face in the Lakes District and probable concerns of the wildfires, due to the state of our forests. Beyond the concerns of the wildfires, I also have a deep concern around the administration of the local Ministry of Forests office.
Initially as a director on the Chinook Community Forests, and previously Burns Lake Community Forests, the rate of time in which community forests and local contractors are able to attain cutting permits from the local Ministry of Forests office is beyond ridiculous. Community forests and others are having to wait months, and months to obtain a cutting permit, when in reality it should only take a couple weeks. A case in point is a current application which has been waiting since last December to get a cutting permit and are still waiting.
This particular cutting permit is within the surrounding area of the community of Burns Lake and as you know anything that can be done to reduce the risk of interface fires should be given it’s highest priority. The local community forests and other local contractors should further have the ability to “manage” old growth forest areas, and visual quality objective areas with scope of reducing the threat of wildfires; by removing the dead forest stands, while maintaining intent of the aforementioned objectives.
As a concerned individual I would highly recommend to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, to give priority to addressing these issues and the long standing issues within the local Ministry of Forests office so that contractors and others can get the permits they need in a timely fashion.
Albert L. Gerow