B.C. forest communities getting help to cope with COVID-19 pandemic: province

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VICTORIA — Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says communities that depend on forestry and have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are taking on more than 180 local projects to help cope with the economic fallout.

Chief Sharleen Gale of the Fort Nelson First Nation says her community is employing workers to clear forest areas to create breaks that will protect neighbourhoods from the threat of wildfires.

She says other workers who lost their jobs are also improving habitat areas for threatened caribou herds.

Karla Kozakevich, chairwoman of the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, says workers in the Princeton area are doing maintenance work on recreational trails, including removing dangerous trees, installing picnic tables and building restroom facilities.

Conroy says the projects are part of the province's three-year Forest Employment Program, which was created in 2019 to provide short-term work for contractors and workers affected by layoffs and mill closures.

She says the program received a $12-million funding boost as part of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press