Eight local youth have been hired as the Logan Lake FireSmart crew for the 2020 season, where they will receive training, build life and employment skills and gain paid work experience.
This year’s crew has already been First Aid certified, spent time with a BC Wildfire Service group to learn about wildland firefighting, learned about fire mitigation from Logan Lake Fire Chief Dan Leighton, took a lesson on seed and tree identification, and brushed up on their Bear Aware knowledge.
Logan Lake was recognized as a FireSmart Community by FireSmart Canada in 2013, the culmination of a decade’s worth of wildfire planning and mitigation activities, much of which was led by Tom Lacey of Merritt.
For several years, a FireSmart team has been instrumental in helping keep the woods around Logan Lake tidy and at a lower risk of wildfire and interface fires, something which cost the province of BC approximately $182.5-million in 2019 alone.
“The value of the FireSmart program to human life, property and overall impact cannot be understated,” said Garnet Mierau, Registered Professional Forester and a FireSmart program coordinator.
“FireSmart activities work, and cost the taxpayers of BC a fraction of what is being spent on suppression and emergency response. Building a resilient community with mitigated risk is key.”
The program is delivered by the Logan Lake Wellness, Health and Youth Society (WHY), and is made possible by a Canada Summer Jobs grant, an initiative of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. Supported by the Logan Lake Community Forest, Forsite Forest Management Specialists and the Logan Lake Fire Department, it truly is a community driven program.
Jordan Glavine, who is one of the members of this year’s FireSmart team, says that the program has not only helped him develop skills, but a passion for forestry.
“I had worked for a very similar program when I was 14, and I came back and now I’m 20,” said Glavine.
“So, it’s not only focused on students it’s just youth in general. It’s a big help to youth in general. You actually do learn a lot out here. I feel really confident now out in the forest, I was pretty good with it before, but now if I were to get stuck out in the woods, I know which trees burn smokeless fires or smoke fires so that I can be located. I know which trees provide nutrients, and things like that. You really do learn out here as well, how to interact with wildlife, which is very important if you’re in the woods. How to basically just survive when you come head on with a wild animal.”
Currently, the team is working through cutblocks that have been previously logged, clearing debris and preparing slash piles.
“We just go around pruning, picking up sticks, raking them up and stuff like that, labour work,” said Glavine.
“We pile them all together and get them ready for slash burns in the fall and winter. It’s a huge block this one that I’m on currently. We’ve probably done three quarters of it, so that’s actually massive. I think we’ve done probably around six to eight piles or so.”
This translates into a lot of physical work, something Glavine notes is good for the group’s health, as well as building team skills.
“It’s really good physically, it’s good, hard work,” said Glavine.
“You build up a lot of muscle, and it’s a lot of teamwork. That’s really good for the youth I find, to build up that teamwork experience, that’s something that they really need especially if they’re kids who maybe don’t like sports or something, or they just prefer to be outdoors instead of playing hockey or something like that.”
Glavine has enjoyed his work in the program so much that he has decided to pursue a career in the forest industry. His advice for other young people who are considering getting involved with the program or other forestry initiatives is to “go for it”.
“I would absolutely encourage them to do it,” said Glavine.
“I kind of didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I came back to Logan Lake which is my hometown, so I came back and they really helped me out here. And I kind of realized I was really enjoying myself out here. Forestry is a huge industry there’s a lot of options there, and it’s something that you might fall in love with, so I’d probably tell them to go for it.”
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald