Social distancing being the current practice, Couns. Jim Elford accepedt a cheque from Creston Community Forest chair John Chisamore (centre) on Friday while Mayor Ron Toyota looked on. The CCF donation is part of its $75,000 commitment for the mitigation of the Crawford Hill water reservoir site. Lorne Eckersley photo

Community Forest supports Crawford Hill project

By Lorne Eckersley

The mitigation of the old and now unused open water reservoirs on Crawford Hill got a major boost last week from Creston Community Forest, which has evolved into a major promoter of outdoor recreation in recent years.

CCF board chair John Chisamore announced a contribution of $75,000 as the Town of Creston works “to create a public (community) space for the enjoyment of the general public on a portion of the property.”

Mitigation of the site will mean restoring portions of the property to a more natural state and converting the old reservoirs into small ecosystems, such as marshes. A large bat house on the site will help reduce the mosquito population, Couns. Jim Elford said after accepting part of the CCF contribution on behalf of the Town of Creston.

Chisamore said the donation is part of a greater effort by the CCF to create outdoor recreation and educational facilities like walking paths and outdoor education opportunities.

“The Corporation supports the environmental improvements of the (mitigation) project and wishes to ensure that sufficient funds are available to complete the project,” he said.

Elford, who serves as the Town Council representative to the CCF, credits the Forest Corporation’s board and staff for its efforts to diversify and play a greater role, not just in logging, but in other areas as well.

“CCF did an amazing job in Canyon,” he said. A truly sustainable logging operation involved taking out half of the merchantable timber, then replanting, is now complete.

“Then in 25 or 30 years we can go in and log the half that was left, and there will me maturing trees well on their way to being ready to log in another generation,” Chisamore said.

Fuel management was a major focus in Canyon as well, with dense forests being opened up to reduce the fire hazard for nearby residences. Canyon is also home to several CCF trails, including Thompson Rim, Rotary and Pack Trails, with the addition of more connector trails now in the planning stages.

“Fuel mitigation is the process of reducing this heightened risk of intense wildfires by removing an appropriate amount of fuel (excess woody debris, fallen trees, dead standing trees – anything that can and will burn in a wildfire!) from a particular stand,” according to the CCF web site.

“The end result is a fire-resilient forest that acts as a barrier to subsequent fire spread. The amount and type of fuel that is removed is entirely dependent on site-specific conditions, however, the resulting forest has been treated such that only low intensity surface fires are produced within any ignition event.

“The implementation of fuel mitigation within what is known as the Wildland Urban Interface is becoming increasingly prevalent within communities across BC.”

On Goat (Arrow) Mountain, a major fuel mitigation effort is now in its second year, with underbrush and deadfalls, along with some timber, being cleared along the forest service road. Like Canyon, the intention is to reduce fuel for fires in order to protect residences, this time in the Town of Creston, as well as Lakeview-Arrow Creek and Erickson. Several local contractors have been kept busy doing the work, which also included cable logging on some steeper slopes.

Working under the direction of Forest Manager Daniel Gratton and Registered Forest Technician Kelsey Syfchuck, CCF has a clear mandate: to manage forest resources for long-term community benefit; to operate the community forest as a viable forestry enterprise;

to educate the public on the community forest and the management of Creston’s forest resources; to enhance partnerships with local First Nations and to develop a timber harvesting schedule for the next 5-10 years.

“It doesn’t seem so long ago that a regional director wanted to give the Community Forest Corporation away,” Mayor Ron Toyota said. “That would have been a great loss for our community, given the success it has had in becoming economically viable while playing a huge role in safety and recreation for our residents.”

For more information about the CCF, visit http://crestoncommunityforest.com.

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