Lil'wat Forestry Ventures reaches finals of 2024 Land Awards

Lil’wat Forestry Ventures' (LFV) work on the Q̓welq̓welústen/Mount Meager Landslide Restoration project is garnering attention across the province.

LFV was a finalist in the Real Estate Foundation of BC’s (REFBC) 2024 Land Awards on June 13 in the Land Use and Conservation Category. The 2010 Mount Meager landslide is considered one of the largest in Canadian history, with sediment still moving down the Lillooet River. Since then, local groups have been trying to stop the fast flow of the sediment.

The project is aimed at slowing sediment buildup to reduce the chances of flooding on reserve lands and creating conditions suitable for vegetation and wildlife habitat. The REFBC’s Land Awards program recognizes outstanding projects and leaders that protect lands and waters and create sustainable, inclusive, and resilient communities.

LFV is also leading the way with its proactive wildfire risk reduction initiative this summer. The Forest Fuels Management Project aims to ensure the safety of the entire community during the warmest months of the year.

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.

LFV forest technician, Hayden Leo, is excited their hard work is being noticed.

“Being a finalist, and even being nominated for these awards, is a great honour for Lil'wat Forestry Ventures. It means a lot to be recognized for the proactive work we are doing within Lil’wat Nation’s Traditional Territory,” he said. “This will help future projects to assist in the restoration of wildlife in our area and potentially help nearby communities that might have similar issues. We’re grateful to Clearcourse, Chartwell, and all the other groups who made this project possible."

Leo explained huge swaths of the debris field remain completely barren, with sedimentation impacts extending to downstream fish and other wildlife.

“The landslide material drastically altered the sediment input into the lower reaches of the Lillooet River that runs through the Pemberton Valley, significantly increasing the flood risk in populated areas and lowering the effectiveness of existing flood-protection infrastructure,” he said.

He stressed LFV has always followed the goals set out by Lil’wat Nation.

“LFV has taken up the role of a steward of the land,” he said. “This project is a step in the right direction on how we can manage the land by enhancing wildlife habitat and producing a beneficial land base. The innovation used for this project is a good model for others to follow and includes many different groups within the territory.”

Mark Gifford, CEO of REFBC, congratulated the group for reaching the finals.

“We’re excited to celebrate remarkable leaders and organizations forging better relationships between lands, waters, and people. By sharing success stories from across British Columbia, we hope to build bridges and inspire lasting change,” he said, “The Q̓welq̓welústen/Mount Meager Landslide Restoration project combines restoration and research, and demonstrates leadership in innovation, impact, collaboration, and engagement.”

Roisin Cullen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Pique Newsmagazine