Burns Lake Community Forest completes 20 years

Celebrates with the community during their annual open house and BBQ

On July 22, Burns Lake Community Forest (BL Comfor) hosted their annual open house and bbq and invited over the community to enjoy and revel in BL Comfor’s 20th anniversary.

”A milestone is always a great achievement. As BL Comfor was the first pilot community forest, it is the oldest community forest in the province of BC. Having successfully navigated through the mountain pine beetle epidemic while continuing to provide local benefit, is an achievement in itself. Our mistakes of the past has helped us succeed in the present and will ensure our success for the future,” said Frank Varga, the general manager for BL Comfor.

The open house and the bbq saw live music and lots of food and drinks for the community. There was also a hand sanitizing station with masks for those who wanted them.

“Obviously there are changes because of Covid. We had originally planned to throw a really large block party and we had big plans but of course now we can’t have that many people so we just decided to offer the food with precautions and then we have some local young performers and then a lovely cake,” said Crystal Fisher, the BL Comfor president adding that the open house was a yearly thing to get the community’s input as it is after all, the community’s forest.

Varga also indicated that although this year the celebrations were subdued due to Covid, the 20th anniversary celebrations would be pushed to next year with a bigger event.

Both Fisher, and Varga mentioned that this year a lot of focus was going to be on bringing back fire to the landscape under controlled settings in order to achieve effective forest management.

”We are at the tail end of our ability to maximize the fiber value — most of the pine trees we are still harvesting have been dead close to 15 years. Harvesting operations and innovations cost money. We have embarked on key local initiatives such as our Landscape Fire Mitigation works, FSC certification and have continued to develop and innovate our practices for fiber utilization and community resilience and ecosystem sustainability,” said Varga.

The projects Varga talked about would be extremely costly but worth it, considering the over 2 million dollars that was invested into the mountain pine beetle mitigation projects.

“BL Comfor is more than trees it is ‘a community, a village, a forest’. Having a community forest keeps our resources managed locally, and keeps the revenue generated through the process of harvesting at the local level,” said Varga.

Next on the agenda for the BL Comfor according to Varga is the organization’s continued efforts in landscape fire hazard abatement and attempting to salvage as much value out of the dead pine as possible. The community forest would also be completing an ecosystem restoration initiative through their efforts for landscape fire mitigation and are hoping to complete a prescribed fire project soon, weather permitted.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist


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