Following the fires in the latter half of 2018, the centre worked to remove danger trees, restore natural drainage patterns, and grass seeded fireguards by either hand or using a helicopter. (Contributed Photo)

Wildfire rehabilitation continues in Skeena region

Stabilizing slopes and clearing away unstable trees is part of the recovery process

The rehabilitation of the land affected by the suppression of the 2018 wildfires is now underway throughout the Northwest.

The Northwest Fire Centre, located in Smithers, coordinates the wildfire response in the area and will be working to restore 12 of the most significant fire sites covering 383,230 hectares — a process that is expected to take several months.

Following the fires in the latter half of 2018, the centre worked to remove danger trees, restore natural drainage patterns, and grass seeded fireguards (a machine-made clearing to serve as a fire break) to prevent invasive plants and soil erosion. As the first phase of the rehabilitation work must be done before the onset of winter, it’s considered an essential step for public safety and environmental protection.

“Weather was an issue before the ground froze,” writes Michelle Larstone, spokesperson for the Skeena Region, Wildfire Rehab and Recovery Team, in an email to the Terrace Standard. As an example, she says that land in some areas was too soft to use heavy pieces of machinery on.

READ MORE: Emergency Support Services examines strategies after 2018 wildfires

The Cassiar Fire Zone, which has been affected by the Alkali Lake and Lutz Creek wildfires, is in the greatest need for rehabilitation. A total of 221,994 hectares has been affected.

“All emergency works within the community (in the Cassiar Fire Zone) had to be complete before residents could come back to their community. The focus now is on rehabilitating the areas impacted by fire suppression activities. Archaeological assessments and rehabilitation work, such as repairing fireguard and grass seeding, will be moving ahead once the snow clears.”

The 121,215-hectare Alkali Lake wildfire, which originated five kilometres northwest of Telegraph Creek, requires approximately 57 kilometres of fireguard to be rebuilt whereas the 100,779-hectare Lutz Creek wildfire only needs seven kilometres of it.

The ministry is working with the Tahltan Nation and the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation to complete this work, which is expected to be complete come spring.

READ MORE: California wildfire costliest natural disaster in 2018

Now that the second phase of the rehabilitation work is in progress, the B.C. government in collaboration with the region’s local governments and First Nations, will also be stabilizing slopes next to highways and bodies of water, clearing away unstable trees, seeding more grass and removing timber that was cut down to slow the growth of the wildfires.

But according to Larstone, that planning phase can take some time.

“It requires data analysis, field inspections, report writing, and archeological assessments in collaboration with affected First Nations.”

As for tree-planting, that won’t be considered until the next phase after. Plans will help determine which sites need to be replanted and which can be left to natural regeneration.

In Dec. 2018, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments released a press statement that highlighted the rehabilitation needs of the 12 different zones in the Northwest Fire Centre that are in progress or in revision. Planning for an additional two sites in the Northwest Fire Centre region will begin this year.

The Northwest Fire Centre’s region covers over 25 million hectares, a quarter of the province, stretching from the west coast to just west of Endako, from the Yukon border to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

Larstone says that the overall cost will be determined once all the rehabilitation plans for each fire are approved.

“To date, the recovery process has been going well, and once snow clears we’ll be ramping up activities again,” says Larstone. “We’ll continue to keep communities and stakeholders informed as we progress.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


As part of the recovery process, quad bikes were also used to help with grass seeding to prevent invasive plants and soil erosion in the wildfire sites. (Contributed Photo)

Just Posted

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Coastal GasLink agrees to two-day pause of pipeline construction in Morice River area

Work will stop once Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs begin talks with province and feds

RCMP cease patrols on Morice West Service Road

Withdrawal opens door for talks today between hereditary chiefs, province and federal gov

COLUMN | Waste carts

Columnist Andre Carrel talks about garbage collection in Terrace

Officials for Mills Memorial Hospital replacement project named

Project is estimated to cost $450 million

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Most Read