A popular Boundary recreation area is safer from the risk of wildfire following a fuel treatment project.
The West Boundary Community Forest recently completed a 32-hectare project adjacent to Jewel Lake, north of Greenwood, thanks to a $254,000 grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC.
“A lot of collaboration from many partners were a hallmark of this project,” manager Dan Macmaster said in a news release. “The local residents were involved in the initial planning and the cleanup we are finishing up now.”
He says they also had support from BC Parks, Vaagen Fibre Canada, and the Osoyoos Indian Band, as well as the the Jewel Lake Environmental Protection Society, led by local residents.
He says their goal was to protect homes, recreational trails, and camping sites.
“Dan, together with the forest professionals at Vaagen, involved the local residents of Jewel Lake in the development of their plans right from the start,” Jewel Lake resident Randy Trerise said.
“They listened to our concerns, implemented many of our ideas, and led field trips when
requested. The partial cutting treatment has reduced the fuel load in the forest, and we expect the treatment will improve the safety of our homes should a wildfire take place in the future.”
The Osoyoos Indian Band provided post-harvest treatment work, which included contributing to parts of the mechanical and manual treatment activities.
“Vaagen and the West Boundary Community Forest involved our Band in all aspects of planning and mitigation work,” said Vern Louie, the forest manager with the Osoyoos Indian Band.
“Our forestry team assisted with the manual treatments needed to ensure the area was protected in the future from a major wildfire.”
The band was also involved in the initial work and design of the project itself.
“It was a very strong effort by the West Boundary Community Forest, to meet the goal to reduce the wildfire risk to the community while collaborating and addressing recreational and other aesthetic values in the forest,” said Forest Enhancement Society of BC senior manager Gord Pratt.
“From the start, it was all about collaboration and they showed openness and great leadership in realizing the important outcomes of the project.”
Over the years, the area saw a major accumulation of blowdown and dead standing trees, increasing the risk of a wildfire spreading rapidly through the area, Pratt said.
Another major challenge for the area was the fuel accumulation around a single access road for residents and visitors in and out of the area.
Macmaster said as a result, they prioritized reducing wildfire risk closest to homes and the road.
Additionally, they built new trails, new signage, and added interpretive signs on local plants, trees, and wildlife.
He says in the course of the project they removed 40 loads of small-diameter logs and pulp to sell to local mills. While they have met the project’s objectives, the community forest will continue to maintain the area, he added.