Former ranger station still stands firm

Historic building flourishes in local forestry use

Forest protection officer Chris Betuzzi holds a 'retro' BC Forest Service sign in front of the 1952 former Forest Rangers station

There is only one old, original ranger station known to remain in continuous government operation in British Columbia – and it is located in 100 Mile House.

Local forest protection officer Chris Betuzzi says the station dates back to circa 1952, when the Forest Rangers held a multifaceted role in the preservation of B.C.’s wildlands and timber.

The small, barn-style white clapboard station is tucked in neatly beside the much larger and more contemporary Service BC building, which houses other forestry offices and government agents.

The former ranger station is the local base for the Cariboo Fire Centre, an arm of the Wildfire Management Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO).

Betuzzi says he is proud of the building’s heritage and enjoys working out of the old, historic building. The Cariboo Fire Centre still has a 1950s BC Forest Service sign cautioning “Observe Campfire Regulations” under the banner “Reward a Living Forest.”

“There would have been half a dozen rangers plus a clerk who worked out of there, and then in the summertime, it would have been fire suppression crews. They were responsible for everything to do with forest management, whereas now people tend to be a little more specialized.”

After the adjacent Service BC building was built in 1985, many of the forestry-related operations moved over there, while the wildfire crews stayed behind in the former ranger station.

Betuzzi notes he and his staff mainly look after fire management, whereas most of the MFLNRO employees working out of the Service BC centre take care of silviculture aspects, logging permits and other day-to-day forestry needs.

The old ranger station recently had new roof shingles installed and some siding replaced where deterioration is setting in, he explains.

Betuzzi adds the building has also undergone energy updates over the past 15 years, including a new furnace, entry doors, garage door and double-paned windows, as well as better upstairs insulation.

“In the 1950s, ranger stations were built all over the province. To my knowledge, it is the only one left that is still occupied by a B.C. government entity, out of all of those.”

MFLNRO public affairs officer Greig Bethel says his office checked with the ministry’s Heritage, Recreations Sites and Trails, its Wildfire Management branches, and the local forest district, but couldn’t fine anyone who could confirm or deny the 100 Mile House building is the last ranger station still in government use.

However, he notes if the local community wants to pursue exploring the heritage value of the old ranger station, it can contact Heritage BC for assistance at www.heritagebc.ca.

Betuzzi says there is a ranger station of a slightly different design in Clinton, but it was sold and moved from its original site (at the Clinton fire hall) more than a decade ago. It is now in private use beside the BC Ambulance station.

Meanwhile, he is happy to work from this local historic building from the bygone era of his predecessors.

“It’s still fully functional and it works fine for us. It has a little warehouse attached and then office space, so for our needs in the firefighting world, it works great.

“And there is some nostalgia, which is kind of neat.”

 

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