What do you get when you mix engaging presenters, interesting locations, thoughtful participants and favourable weather conditions? Another fantastic forestry field tour!

That’s right, PFLA is happy to report the 2014 forest field tour was a rollicking success. We owe a long list of thank yous to all the folks who contributed to make the day informative and enjoyable.

Phred's bus

The first thank you goes to Phred Judson without whom we’d be nowhere. Literally.

Phred Judson has safely and enthusiastically transported PFLA tour participants year after year—over highways, along forested roads and across countless kilometers—to see one inspiring example of private forest stewardship after another. This year was no exception.

Participants loaded the bus at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort and Conference Centre, bright and early Wednesday morning, keen to reach our first destination: The Coastal Fire Centre in Errington, B.C.

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Derek Lefler warmly greeted PFLA members, Joe Murray (Merrill & Ring Timberlands) and Steve Lackey (Sutil Forestry Consulting Ltd.) to the fire centre before we divided into two groups for a detailed tour.

The Coastal Fire Centre is one of six regional wildland fire centres operated by the B.C. Forest Service’s Wildfire Management Branch. It is the Regional Wildfire Coordination Centre for fire dispatch, operations and administration for wildland fire fighting in south coastal B.C. (the province’s most heavily populated area). The Coastal Fire Centre supports six zones and 12 firebases throughout the region. Fire fighters in these zones work on three-person Initial Attack crews or 20-person Unit crews.

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The first group, led by Forest Protection Assistant, Richard Heard, got a hands-on look at the equipment and resources fire fighters use to respond to wildfires.

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The second group headed inside for a firsthand look at the fire control room where Catherine Morrison and Brent Anderson provided a detailed overview of fire response information, mapping and communication technologies.

Did you know the Coastal Fire Centre contains over 75% of the population of B.C. and has the third largest metropolitan area in Canada? Large power grids, major railway lines, parks and ecologically sensitive areas, endangered species habitat, a high volume of federal, provincial and private campgrounds, high density housing in rural areas and world destination commercial recreation facilities all pose special challenges.

A huge thanks to everyone for a great tour!

Visit the PFLA Facebook page for a few more pics from the fire centre tour.

Another shout of thanks goes to Morgan Kennah and Ken Epps from Island Timberlands for organizing the Englishman River Watershed fish hatchery portion of the tour.

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Guest presenters provided fascinating information about fish habitat restoration and monitoring on the Englishman River.

For the detailed story of this section of the tour, check out One Fish, Two Fish—Rebuilding Coho Populations in the Englishman River. A big thanks to presenters:

  • Mike Donnelly, Regional Water Manager for the Regional District of Nanaimo
  • Dave Davies, Community Advisor with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • James Craig, B.C. Conservation Foundation

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It’s settled. The bar for future PFLA lunches has been set suitably high.

Thanks to Marc Fortin (along with Nora Berg and Janet Fortin for their skills on the grill) tour participants were graciously hosted to a delicious BBQ lunch of certified BC beef, raised on Vancouver Island, at the Forest Lakewood BC headquarters on Church Road.

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Marc Fortin demonstrates how to split two cords of wood in one hour.

Along with good food, great company, stunning views and the occasional bear wandering across the field, participants were treated to a wood splitting demonstration with the impressive “blockbuster” tool Forest Lakewood BC uses for the firewood aspect of their business.

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Look for their newly minted Island Valley Farms logo at a store near you.

The afternoon portion of the tour wrapped up with a visit to Woodlot 0031, near Coombs, where Walker Addison and Ed Hughes toured participants to a number of sites on the property with discussions and information ranging from:

  • Commercial thinning
  • Recreational activities and trail construction
  • Coastal Douglas-fir rare and endangered
  • Regeneration activities
  • Harvest planning
  • Pruning and browse control
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A big PFLA thanks to Walker Addison and Ed Hughes for an engaging and informative afternoon; stand by for more information and photos coming soon.

One final arm-waving, fist-pumping, back-slapping shout of appreciation goes to Steve Lackey for all his help and hard work organizing this year’s tour.