Land impacted by the suppression of the Torkelsen wildfire in 2018, including fireguards constructed to help slow the fire’s spread, has been rehabilitated.
The rehabilitation project included:
- removing woody debris from streams;
- moving vegetation that was cleared from fireguard areas back into those areas;
- sowing grass seed to help prevent soil erosion; and
- managing water flows on the landscape.
The Torkelsen fire was sparked by lightning and originated 25 kilometres south of Fort Babine on Aug. 4, 2018, eventually burning 2,524 hectares. Fireguards were built along the fire’s perimeter to help the BC Wildfire Service contain the blaze, 89 kilometres of which required rehabilitation.
This successful effort was partly due to a collaboration between staff from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (Skeena Stikine Natural Resource District) and the Lake Babine Nation. Collaboration with the Lake Babine Nation began during the rehabilitation planning phase in fall 2018 and continued throughout the project.
People from Fort Babine and Witset were hired to complete the rehabilitation work using heavy equipment, as part of an ongoing training program established in partnership with local contractor Tzah Tez Tlee Development Corporation.
The fireguards crossed 96 streams, mostly on the east side of the Torkelsen wildfire site. A registered professional biologist was hired to provide detailed plans to rehabilitate those crossings and minimize impacts on fish populations while the work was being done.
Previous unauthorized access along the lakeshore has been rehabilitated and an alternative route is being planned. Now that all the stream restoration work is complete, signs will be installed to advise people that all-terrain vehicles should not be used in those areas to help protect fish habitat.
- The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is responsible for rehabilitating areas impacted by wildfire-suppression operations on Crown land, as the first step in land-based recovery.
- The B.C. government works with local governments and First Nations impacted by wildfires to gather archaeological information, plan rehabilitation efforts and carry out the prescribed work.
- Of the 14 wildfire sites in the Northwest Fire Zone that required rehabilitation due to the 2018 wildfires, 10 have been rehabilitated. The remaining four (at the sites of the Nadina, Hautete, Cheslatta and Nichyeskwa wildfires) are expected to be completed in 2020.