The Walker Valley Fuel Management project begun on Jan. 29 and has been progressing very well, according to a Feb. 14 media release from Al Richmond of the Cariboo Regional District (CRD).
“The project is progressing very well. The majority of the felling in the burned area was completed at the end of last week. Skidding will be the next phase followed by processing, in which the branches are removed and the trees are cut to length,” reads the release. “Hauling is likely 10 days away but could happen sooner. [The] last phase is brush or slash piling into haystacks in preparation for burning in the fall of 2018.”
More Douglas Fir and Aspen tree patches were left than what the CRD thought possible at the beginning of the project and the contracted feller buncher operator found additional damp areas. The damp areas will be used as buggers to protect the habitat as long as long as they weren’t damaged by the wildfire.
All birdhouses were flagged and either the whole tree will be left or cut off at roughly three to four metres, making stub trees. Other stub trees are being left as wildfire trees where it is practical.
There is a recommended requirement of 15-20 metre machine free and no harvest zones that will be met will be met or exceeded when possible according to the release.
“The biologist has now been on site and has provided recommended requirements such as no machine or harvesting below the historic watermark,” said the release. “The reason to 20 metres is not possible everywhere is travelling from south to north along the road there are two areas before the dam and multiple sections after the dam where the road is too close to the creek already.”
Because of this, the only other solution is to move the road as they cannot harvest below the road. However, moving the road is not practical.
Slit fencing will also be installed in four to six spots to keep a minimum amount of soil from entering bodies of water during rainfall or snowmelt.
“it is also a best management practice to seed most of the road in order to re-vegetate the road and reduce siltation over the long term,” said the release.
The CRD anticipate the majority of the work will be completed in early March if the crews do not run into any difficulties.
Some residents have been impacted by the work.
“Unfortunately, there is not a great deal we can about the noise. The early morning starts are for a few reasons, one is trying to get the job done as quickly as possible, doing the work earlier in the morning when the ground is harder does less damage to the landscape and the limited availability of the crews to do the work,” the release said.