CHETWYND - B.C.'s wildfire history is being preserved and an improved local recreation opportunity is being provided through restoration of the Bickford fire lookout, announced MLA for Peace River South Mike Bernier.
Substantial restoration work and upgrades of the existing structure are now complete. Work included replacing damaged doors and windows, installing a new sub-floor, roof repairs, exterior paint, and two exterior walls were restructured and straightened. Additional work planned for early next year includes the installation of laminate flooring, painting the lower level walls and ceiling and other small finishing touch-ups.
Recreation Sites and Trails BC contributed $10,000 to the project, and is maintaining the lookout through a partnership agreement with the local outdoors club to provide public recreation and historic education. Glencore, formerly Xstrata Coal, was also a significant partner with a matched contribution. Other project volunteers include the Chetwynd Outdoors Society and Wildfire Management Branch staff. Buffalo Aerial Helicopter Services also donated flight time to assist with transporting staff and materials to and from the site.
The ministry reviewed all lookout upgrade opportunities and chose this project based on location, accessibility, community use and partnership interest. The ministry is continuing to assess and inspect other lookouts for restoration potential and partnership opportunities. Upcoming projects will occur as funding becomes available.
Last year, in recognition of the BC Forest Service's centennial birthday, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations completed restorations on five lookouts across B.C.: the Thornhill lookout in Terrace, the Nahatlatch lookout in Boston Bar, the Buchanan lookout in Kaslo, the Owen Hill lookout in Houston and the Mara lookout in Enderby.
This week is National Forest Week, Sept. 22-28. Fire lookouts have been a part of the province's history for decades and more recently have become important recreational assets for residents and tourists. Restoring some of these assets will ensure recreation users have the opportunity to continue enjoying B.C.'s forests and natural spaces.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson:
"Abandoned fire lookouts represent a tremendous recreational and historical resource that is worthy of preservation. These projects also create local jobs and support the economy by drawing more visitors and tourists to our smaller communities."
MLA for Peace River South Mike Bernier:
"The restoration of the Bickford fire lookout will bring added tourism and recreation opportunities to the region. Local businesses will also benefit from added revenue as visitors and tourists come into to town to eat, sleep and shop."
- There are currently 320 fire lookout locations in British Columbia. Of those, 20 are considered active and required by the Wildfire Management Branch.
- Lookouts offer incredible world-class vistas and views and may also be used as weather stations and communications sites.
- Lookouts provide recreation/tourism opportunities year round with hiking and ATV use during the summer and cross country skiing and snowmobiling use in the winter.
Recreation Sites and Trails BC: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/
Learn about heritage in B.C.: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/heritage/
Learn about wildfire history in B.C.: http://bcwildfire.ca/
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations