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Wells Gray Community Forest aims to be more accessible to public

A report was given to Clearwater council on May 17
Wells Gray Community Forest pine salvage. (Wells Gray Community Forest website)

The Wells Gray Community Forest is going through a revamp to become more accessible to the public, said George Brcko, general manager, at the District of Clearwater’s regular meeting on May 17.

A documentary was produced last year and has received positive feedback, he added. The WGCF website is being reworked to make applying for grants easier, as well as continue to provide information to the public, such as yearly reports, annual harvesting and silviculture programs and management plans. Considering the low turnout from the public to WGCF meetings, Brcko said they hope revitalizing the website will “draw more people in.”

In his presentation, Brcko noted the WGCF manages the watershed around the district, and the end of a five-year cut cycle, which the logging company recently completed, a hydrologist is hired to visit the site and review road-building and the blocks that have been done.

“We keep a table going on what we’ve cut and what is recovering to ensure that we’re basically staying within a sustainable rate of cut in the watershed,” he told council. “Extremely important, obviously.”

The community forest also replaces pipes in the area ahead of spring freshet, noting the large amount of snowpack and potential melt off this season.

A copy of the WGCF’s Nov. 1, 2020, to Oct. 31, 2021, annual report is available in the agenda package found on the DOC website.

In it, the president’s report notes the Wells Gray Community Forest Corporation made a gross profit of $428,487 and logged a harvest of 15,863 m3. The WGCF acquired a LiDAR remote sensing apparatus which uses light in the form of pulsed laser to measure the heights of various objects on the Earth. This, said Brcko, has helped the community forest to improve its inventory information, improving the accuracy of numbers the set the annual allowable cut.

‘That was a huge goal of us this year, to make sure that we’re cutting correctly,” he said. “I know that sounds a little bit silly, but I don’t think the bigger world is really doing that well out there, we’re running into a lot of issues with timber supply and stuff, so we’re trying to take our fixed little area base and make that very realistic.”

After a windstorm took down trees across the region last year, the WGCF harvesting program focused on salvaging and removing fallen and dangerous timber from the Candle Creek mountain bike trail system, as well as along Spahats Creek Road 80, removing low-value timber and dead pine. The community forest is planting about 300,000 trees locally this year.

The WGCFC and the Wells Gray Community Forest Society both offer granting cycles for individuals and groups to apply for to complete community projects. The WGCFC has contributed $1,350,000 from 2018-2020 to the Evergreen Acres Senior Housing Society for projects including additional units and an amenities building. Meanwhile, the WGCFS has donated over $50,000 to numerous projects, including an outdoor classroom for Raft River Elementary, microscopes and 3D printers for Clearwater Secondary School, materials to build a chicken coop at Forest View Place and a veterinarian recruitment video.

The report is available on the District of Clearwater’s website and YouTube channel.

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