Kettle Valley Rail Trail winds through the Okanagan and Similkameen on railbed left from B.C.’s historical silver-mining boom. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Kettle Valley Rail Trail winds through the Okanagan and Similkameen on railbed left from B.C.’s historical silver-mining boom. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. forest job program gets COVID-19 aid, expands to coast

Short-term work on trails, bridges, forest firebreaks

The B.C. government has used $12 million of its $10 billion COVID-19 relief fund to expand a forest job program that was first set up to retain people in communities where their sawmill closed down after the pine beetle epidemic.

Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says the renewed program can expand to the coastal region, with a total of 180 land-based projects such as caribou habitat restoration, firebreaks around communities, recreational trail and bridge repairs.

There is no shortage of repair work after two record-breaking forest fire seasons, as well as the flooding, landslides and falling trees that occur every year across the province.

Karla Kozakevich, chair of Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, said the district has $450,000 to tackle underfunded maintenance on its 230 km of Kettle Valley Rail Trail system that links Summerland, Penticton, Peachland and Kelowna. Work includes bridge repairs in Tulameen, direction signs, repairs of landslides and erosion, brushing, removal of invasive plants and “danger trees,” installation of picnic tables, a pit toilet and rock scaling at Little Tunnel in Naramata.

“During the pandemic this past year we have seen a huge increase in the number of folks who want to get outside and recreate and make use of our beautiful regional trail system,” Kozakevich said.

The coastal expansion covers removal and cleanup of seven landslides on a Haida Gwaii forest road, as well as danger tree and forest health work at recreation sites near Port Alberni, Youbou, Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, Powell River and Sechelt.

Wildfire and flood repairs are also planned for sites and trails near Barriere, Chase, Logan Lake, Kamloops and Sun Peaks.

Chief Sharleen Gale of the Fort Nelson First Nation said the program allows the community to carry on boreal caribou habitat restoration work, and logging to create firebreaks around the community.

It also provides logging training to a region that lost its forest industry more than 10 years ago, but has a joint venture through Eh Cho Dene Enterprises to supply a wood pellet plant, with increasing demand for biomass fuels in Asia and Europe.

RELATED: Uncertain future for communities as B.C. sawmills close

RELATED: Wood pellet contract extended with Japan’s Mitsubishi


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Just Posted

A Cariboo Regional District director and School District 27 trustee, Angie Delainey is also a fourth generation business owner in downtown Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Angie Delainey appointed Cariboo Regional District representative on regional board

Delainey and Steve Forseth represent the CRD at the North Central Local Government Association

From October 2020 to April 2021 more than 540 centimeters of snow fell at Barkerville. (Lindsay Chung - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Not so average April snowfall in Barkerville

59 centimeters of white stuff fell last month

Quesnel RCMP Staff Sergeant Darren Dodge took the job in June 2020. (Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel RCMP Staff Sergeant praises work of mental health crisis team

“I know people will say, ‘is this the role for police?’ and I don’t know,” Darren Dodge said of the unit

Crews work to repair Horsefly Road east of Williams Lake . (Ministry of Transportation video)
MoTI activates district operations centre, response to flood damaged roads in Cariboo region

Engineers, experts being pulled from across the province to help

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Most Read