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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Traffic was tied up at the intersection of Scott and Old Yale Roads in North Surrey on Tuesday afternoon, after a semi truck hauling a load of pipes flipped while making a turn. (Shane MacKichan photos)
VIDEO: Semi hauling load of pipes flips in North Surrey intersection

Traffic near Scott and Old Yale Roads tied up by Tuesday afternoon incident

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Tens of thousands of farmers descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Delta council stands in solidarity with protesting Indian farmers

Farmers have been protesting for months new laws they say leave them open to corporate exploitation

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Alex Sangha, Vinay Giridhar, Jaspal Sangha and Kayden Bhangu (clockwise from top) are involved in making “Emergence: Out of the Shadows,” a documentary movie about being gay or lesbian in the South Asian community of Metro Vancouver. (Submitted photo)
Sher Vancouver, Delta School District receiving $10,000 in anti-racism funding

Provincial grants for 192 projects addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism

Surrey city council chambers. (File photo)
Surrey drugstores seeking relaxation of spacing rules ‘a challenge,’ councillor says

‘Obviously we need pharmacies but it seems to me that we are getting an awful lot of applications,’ Brenda Locke says

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of B.C. man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Of 46 arrests made between March 16 and 19 at Metrotown mall in Burnaby, 27 suspected shoplifters are now facing charges. (Twitter/Burnaby RCMP)
RCMP arrest 46 people in 4 days during Metrotown shoplifting crackdown

$4,800 in stolen merchandise was recovered and returned to businesses inside of the mall

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
‘Prolific offender’ charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Kao Macaulay, 23, is accused of breaking into home on March 30

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Most Read