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Lil’wat Nation leading way in reducing wildfire risk this summer

Wood cut during the Forest Fuels Management Project will be given to elders for firewood this winter

The Lil’wat Nation is undertaking a proactive wildfire risk reduction initiative to ensure the safety of the entire community this summer. The Forest Fuels Management Project is being led by Lil’wat Forestry Ventures Ltd (LFV).

The project is being conducted in a residential area above X-Stream Road in Mount Currie. Trees will be thinned in 50-acres of thick forest, while residents can also suggest what work they think should be done within 30 to 50 metres of their homes.

General manager of LFV, Klay Tindall, emphasized the importance of selective thinning work to create more resilient forests in a press release.

“This work is so important to help keep the community safer from the threat of wildfire, with many other significant benefits,” said Tindall. “The selective thinning of the forest will not only mitigate the risk of wildfires to the local homes and properties but will also enhance residents’ visibility to observe wildlife such as wolves, bears and cougars in the area to better ensure their family’s safety.” 

The work should also make it easier for berries, mushrooms and other plants to grow, while harvested wood will provide firewood for elders in the community this winter.

One of the challenges the project faces is a lack of provincial or federal funding.

“Due to the size of the project, we are not eligible for the funding we require to do this work,” Tindall said. “This work is important on so many levels, so we are moving forward to get the work done.” 

Tindall is also calling on the community to make sure their homes are FireSmart before summer fire season. “The area between the fuel-management work and homes will require individual FireSmart work to help create the conditions to better protect homes,” said Tindall. “This is why we’re working with the Lil’wat FireSmart coordinator and residents to determine what we can do between their homes and the forest to better prepare.” 

LFV has additional plans to enhance forest management and community safety long-term. This includes planning out three harvest blocks on Lil’wat Nation land where trees will be harvested using a partial harvest method, ensuring the retention of some trees. 

“Our work will include harvesting along with cultural burning and monitoring to assess how these openings in the forest can better protect against wildfire while also assisting the growth of culturally important shrubs and herbs,” Tindall said. 

Lil’wat Nation’s FireSmart coordinator, Dillon Bikadi, is working hard alongside his colleagues to protect the community. He previously told Pique they are preparing for a forest fire they hope never happens. The Lil’wat FireSmart crew held its FireSmart Day on Saturday, April 27. Bikadi and volunteers offered to collect debris from people’s yards and brought it to a gravel pit by Eddie Lake for chipping. Locals were encouraged to prune and clean their gardens to make the area more resilient to fires. People were also encouraged to send the organization photos of FireSmart activity for a chance of winning a prize.

Bikadi said the event was a huge success, and people now know the measures they need to take to keep their homes safe. “The loads that we were picking up from people who are doing their own treatments were quite large,” he said. 


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