A safety moment at Panorama Mountain Resort has united the Shuswap Indian Band (SIB), Wildlands Eco-Forestry Inc. (WEF), the BC Wildlife Service (BCWFS) and the Panorama Mountain Resort community this autumn.
Up to nine hectares of Panorama Mountain Resort lands were recently treated in a fuel management project geared toward protecting the public and preventing wildfires from spreading in the core of the resort and beyond.
The primary objective of this year’s fuel management program was a trifecta: to ensure public safety, to protect the structural integrity of the community, and to mitigate the risk of potential forest fires before the summer of 2021 on lands that the Sécwepemc historically utilized for traplines in the southeastern corner of the province — those same lands remain part of the SIB’s traditional territory in the Columbia Valley.
“This contract comes after years of Shuswap and other entities trying to bring attention to the need for Wildfire Protection in the area of Panorama,” explained Sierra Stump, SIB’s interim lands manager to the Pioneer by e-mail. “It is our hope that through this project, the B.C. Government will support and endorse the SIB leading projects of all types within our traditional territory and that partnerships like the one (that was just completed), we will create with the Frontline Operations Group (and) will continue to flourish.”
Between Oct. 13 and Nov. 6, the SIB and their longstanding partnerships with WEF, and a last minute assist from Jake Roos of Loki Tree Service, the fuel management program on Crown land was successfully completed with BCWFS.
“This was accomplished by crews from the (SIB) manually removing smaller diameter trees, pruning of retained trees to reduce ladder fuels, and the removal of excess fuel accumulations on the ground,” said Reg Nolander, senior manager or major projects at the Mountain Resorts Branch on behalf of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “The gathered fuel was then piled and burned. The result is an improved (standing) healthy forest stand and a readily defensible, safe area in which the local Fire Department and BC Wildfire Service can suppress fires.”
In addition, the fuel management program at Panorama Mountain Resort created three employment opportunities for SIB members to work as labourers, First Aid responders and chainsaw operators.
“As someone who has worked with the SIB for several years locally, it’s wonderful news to be involved in more of these projects and for the band to get credit for treating the lands and protecting the SIB members and lands, as well as all of the associated communities nearby,” said Brad Munroe, WEF spokesperson.
“The SIB has worked with DOI on a number of past partnerships, and I think it’s worth mentioning the expanding role that the SIB can play in the community.”
To learn more about the Crown Land Fire Risk Reduction projects in B.C., please visit www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/prevention/funding-for-wildfire-prevention/crip/wrr
Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer