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  • Writer's pictureVaagen Fibre Canada

Minister of Forests & MLA Boundary Similkameen Tour Mill, Community Forest, & Wildfire Recovery Work

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

This October, we had the opportunity to take Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests and MLA for Boundary Similkameen Roly Russell on a one day tour of three important spots, Vaagen Fibre Canada’s Midway Mill, the West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF) and the Nk’Mip Creek Wildfire Project.

West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF)

The highlight of this part of the tour was to showcase what the WBCF Outdoor Education Centre is all about. While the WBCF manages the local forest, a primary objective is to provide educational opportunities to elementary students in sustainable forest management and to introduce high school students to the diversity and career options in the sector.

The Minister and the MLA met with WBCF volunteer directors, local teacher Jamie Stewart, and his class of grade 5/6 students to check out the area of the new Outdoor Education Centre.

Vaagen Fibre Canada (Vaagen)

Next on the agenda was a tour of the Vaagen Fibre Canada mill in Midway to learn more about the journey of a log. For Vaagen, it isn’t about more wood, but about ensuring secure and reliable access to fibre, to ensure the mill remains viable and can operate at maximum efficiency to benefit workers, First Nations, the community, and the government by way of stumpage.

The Minister and MLA got to see this firsthand as they toured the mill from start to finish following the journey a log would take— into the mill as a log through to where it is cut and packaged ready to be shipped. On the day of the tour, Douglas Fir from the Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire project was being milled. This presented a fantastic opportunity to show how Vaagen turns small-diameter logs into high-value lumber, hog fuel, wood chips, and other end products, utilizing every part of the log and reducing as much waste as possible.

Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire Project

The catastrophic wildfire east of the community of Osoyoos, dubbed the Nk’Mip Creek Wildfire, scorched over 20,000 hectares of land in the summer of 2021, destroying miles of fence line, damaging roads, trails, and burning forest stands.

This spring, Vaagen started the recovery and restoration work in collaboration with the Osoyoos Indian Band.

Since the Minister and the MLA had seen the journey of a log from the Nk’Mip Creek Wildfire project at the mill, it was only natural to show them how the entire project was unfolding and the important objectives it was achieving. The Minister and the MLA met with Nk'Mip Forestry's Forest Manager, Vern Louie, to learn about the wildfire salvage project and rehabilitation, plus met with young OIB members who were learning about forestry stewardship. The Minster and the MLA were shown the various types of native species of trees and bushes/shrubs that will be replanted and how the knowledge of OIB Elders and hunters/gatherers is helping inform the work on the ground for the wildfire and future generations.

We are grateful to Minister Conroy and MLA Russell for taking the time to learn about the innovative and collaborative work in our small, rural communities focused on sustainable forestry and supporting communities.

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