MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Burns Lake Community Forest Ltd. completes Landscape Fire Management Plan Burns Lake

Memories of the nearby 2018 wildfires are still vivid and as the warmer weather arrives, the concerns around wildfire are high in the local area and across the province. The Burns Lake Community Forest knows that more preventative work is a must if wildfire impacts are to be limited on the community forest tenure and to protect the wildland/urban interface area associated with Burns
Lake and the surrounding rural community.

To learn about the most effective ways to reduce local wildfire risk, the BL ComFor went to B.A. Blackwell & Associates Ltd. to complete a Landscape Fire Management Plan (LFMP). The Blackwell firm
is recognized as a provincial expert in wildfire risk and has provided many communities with an independent assessment and recommendations.

On May 15th, 2019, Blackwell delivered a comprehensive LFMP report. The report provides an unbiased opinion on wildfire risk associated with the ComFor and considers the appropriate mitigation measures to reduce risk associated with long-term fire suppression, impacts of the mountain pine beetle, and concerns related to climate change.

The Blackwell report identified that 63% of the landscape in the BL ComFor is composed of hazardous fuel types. Included in the areas identified as high hazard zones are areas designated as reserves for
other values including Old Growth Management Areas (OGMAs) and Established Visual Quality Objectives (EVQOs). In the plan, 8.7% of the existing OGMAs and 8.3 % EVQOs are within the proposed
treatment and salvage areas.

The Blackwell plan emphasizes that to “ignore or restrict the treatment of these areas will limit the effectiveness of this plan and substantially limit suppression resources ability to suppress or contain
catastrophic wildfire within this tenure.”

BL ComFor Manager, Frank Varga said this about the plan, “I am exciting about receiving this comprehensive plan that supports and validates our efforts in fire ecosystem-based management. We
are also excited that we have a plan that gives us direction to address local concerns for community protection. Our goals are to be stewards of the land for the long term and to continue to provide
benefits to the community and to our partners. With the memory of the 2018 fire season and a very early start in 2019 -Lejac Fire just outside of Fraser Lake within the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako,
we know that reducing the risk of fire through fuel mitigation is a top priority.”

On April 26th, at the Wildfire Resilience conference in Burns Lake, during the evening public forum after a presentation by Blackwell on the plan, Brent May-District Manager, from the local Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development made the commitment to support the BL ComFor wildfire plan implementation by amending landscape constrains as required to enable successful implementation.

On June 4th, 2019 Manager Frank Varga, District Manager Brent May, and Shannon Irvine- Wildfire Prevention Officer toured the areas identified as an imminent zone of threat (Page 53 figure 25 of Blackwell
report).

Recommendations for priority wildfire mitigation areas have been identified based on the following
factors:
Wildfire Risk Reduction for the Village of Burns Lake and surrounding First Nation communities, and communities of Burns Lake, Decker Lake, Teschinkut Lake, Sheraton subdivision, particularly
from wildfires approaching from the south of communities;

  • Community infrastructure;
  • Critical fuel breaks;
  • Communications infrastructure, such as repeaters on Boer mountain;
  • Babine Forest Products Ltd. mill;
  • Critical infrastructure such as powerlines;

Burns Lake Community Forest is committed to seeing this project come to fruition with the following proposed timeline and action plan. We will be sharing proceedings of this information as it develops.

  • July 25th, 2019– Public & First Nation Communication and Engagement Sessions – Open House at COMFOR office to go through tactical plans
  • August 1st, 2019- Have a draft strategic fire prescription in place to support start of operational activities commencing September 1, 2019
  • September 1st, 2019– Commence harvest operations of year 1 (Very High Priority) areas
  • Spring of 2020 – Hazard Abatement Activities, including finalization of detailed tactical fire prescription for prescribed burn and machine piling as required to support the tactical fire
    prescription.
  • Fall 2020 – complete prescribed burn of year 1 (Very High Priority Area), commence year 2 (high Priority Areas)

Wildfire risk reduction is a shared responsibility and managing forest fuels on Crown land is just one step in reducing wildfire risks in a community. Being FireSmart is about learning how to live in a fire-prone environment and taking the necessary steps to protect your family, property, and community from wildfires. Over time, FireSmart principles have been shown to effectively reduce the risk of wildfire-related losses under even the most extreme conditions. Please visit firesmartbc.ca for more information.

The report can be found on the Burns Lake Community Forest website or on our Facebook page, and or by contacting the community forest office at 153 Francois Lake Dr, 250-692-7724

For More Information, Contact: President Crystal Fisher (250-692-7724)