The Wildfire Mitigation Project is expected to be completed by spring 2021. (Lakes District News file photo)

Granisle on track to grow deciduous trees around the village

The project is expected to be completed by spring 2021

The residents of the Village of Granisle will benefit from the efforts of the village, the Babine Lake Community Forest (BLCF), Lake Babine Nation and the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia (FESBC), in providing a safer haven from wildfires, in the future.

The village undertook a Wildfire Fuel Mitigation Project in partnership with the BLCF and through funding from the FESBC, in order to make Granisle a safer place from the wildfires. The project was a result of an idea that the former Granisle Mayor Frederick Clarke had, according to Gord Pratt, who is the operations manager with the FESBC.

“He had a vision of making Granisle safer by reducing wildfire risk. He was innovative in his thought process in managing this community forest and he was really supportive of this idea of planting deciduous trees which are more fire resilient in and around the community forest,” said Pratt.

The BLCFS applied for a grant from the FESBC in November 2017 and were approved for up to $401, 450 in April 2018. The community forest then began the harvest in February 2019 of over 130 hectares of trees around the Village of Granisle.

“Everything done to date has come from the BLCF’s funds as FESBC does not help in their normal logging. And they have a legal obligation to reforest the area but because they are planting deciduous trees, which isn’t normally what they would do there, FESBC will fund anything that isn’t a legal requirement but meets the objectives,” said Pratt, emphasizing that the project was not fully funded by the FESBC and was a partnership with the BLCF and the Village of Granisle.

A few of the objectives that are important to the FESBC that the Granisle project is also focusing on are, to reduce the wildfire risk in and around the community of Granisle, to increase the fibre utilization of the residual fibre around the site which will normally be burnt under normal practices and by increasing the use of fibre utilization, reduce the amount that will be burnt and therefore reduce the carbon footprint and green house gas emissions.

Peter Tweedie, the manager for the BLCF, told Lakes District News in an email that Hampton was the harvest partner in the project and they purchased the timber from the project area. They were also the ones who coordinated the harvest for the BLCF.

Tweedie also said that they are planning on completing the reforestation efforts by spring 2020 adding that work towards it had already begun as they have collected local birch seed and found a local source of cottonwood for “whips” to plant. BLCF has however not selected a planting partner yet.

“We have not yet chosen a planting company but the cottonwood will be collected and planted with a local labour crew,” he said.

Mayor for the Village of Granisle, Linda McGuire said, “we are really happy with the Wildfire mitigation project,” and believes that these efforts will definitely help protect the community.

However, any efforts to protect the community with these deciduous forest cover would be a long-term goal. In the short-term however, the wildfire risks are in fact higher according to Peter Tweedie.

“As with any “harvest-to-mitigate-wildfire-risk” type project, the initial post-harvest period has an actual increase in fire hazard coinciding with the increase in fine fuels on site residual from the harvest. Our plan is to reduce that fuel load this year by raking and burning the fine fuels and possibly completing some small scale broadcast burning. Also, the piled post-harvest processing debris has to be burned this fall,” said Tweedie.

Granisle residents have been supportive of this project. In fact the community engagement period during the project saw responses ranging from “Why hasn’t this been done sooner?” to “We don’t want you to burn anything. Fire is bad.”

“This is a multi-faceted project and the citizens of Granisle have been quite supportive. We appreciate their patience in getting through the harvest phase of the project,” said Tweedie.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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