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Forestry masters students paying a visit to West Boundary area

UBC delegation to tour communities, forestry projects

Photo: UBC Forestry, Trip to Nelson in August

Story by Karen McKinley, Reporter, Grand Forks Gazette/Boundary Creek Times

January 19, 2024

Students from the University of British Columbia will be visiting the West Boundary area next week and want to meet residents to get a better idea of how forestry management impacts them.

The group, consisting of 19 students from the Masters of Sustainable Forest Management (MSFM) Program, are working on a collaborative project with the West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF) and Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) from Jan. 22 to 26, stated a news release from WBCF. Led by Ken Byrne, lecturer and coordinator with the MSFM Program, the group will be visiting communities and forestry projects in the the Kootenay Boundary region as part of a hands-on project addressing emerging resiliency issues such as planning the forested landscape to manage for old growth, fire, and riparian.

Students will start their visit Jan. 22 in Oliver at the Osoyoos Indian Band office. Then on the 23rd will be looking at wildfire recovery projects near Oliver and fuel mitigation around Mount Baldy. They will be heading to Vaagen Fibre Canada in Midway in the late afternoon to look at log yard operations and other aspects of the site. They will arrive in Greenwood later that day for a tour of City Hall and meet with the Community Forest Board, then heading to Grand Forks to spend the night.

On the 24th, they will head to Jewel Lake, then Lone Star to look at a fire risk management project. Around 2 p.m., they will be at the Christina Lake Visitors Centre, with a plan to book a room at the Community Hall where Byrne is planning to give a presentation and let students meet with community members.

The group will be heading to Vernon on the 25th to look at other forestry projects.

During their visit, students will design and model long range landscape level plans and scenarios centered around themes related to old growth retention, recruitment, old growth management areas, as well as fire and riparian management.

This is for credit in the program, as well as getting students ready for life in rural communities where forestry is critical to their way of life, explained Byrne.

“Many of them are taking this program because it’s a quick path to a career in forestry in Canada and The United States,” said Byrne. “They also need to talk to the people that live and work here to get data for their modeling for accurate measurements and understanding. It’s also getting students ready for life in smaller communities because many of them are coming from urban centres and we want to show them what life is going to be like in these communities.”

This benefits all parties because the partners gain expert knowledge on forestry management while students learn how to work in the field and use their skills and tools in the real world, he added.

The region already has two graduates of the MSFM program; Dan Macmaster, forestry manager with the OIB and Peter Flett, head of operations at Nk’Mip Forestry and WBCF. MacMaster stated in the release he understands the importance of engaging with students through regular class visits and field tours, helping them acquire practical skills and a deeper understanding of the industry.

(L to R) Peter Flett and Dan Macmaster

“Education is a key pillar for our community forest,” said Macmaster. “We look at our forest as a great training ground for students from kindergarten to the graduate level. When we can form these kind of partnerships, it’s a win-win situation. We look forward to welcoming these UBC students and encourage our community to engage with them when they see them around the community.”

The plans will use collected data to assess the sensitivity of various forestry values - including biodiversity, wildlife, First Nations’ knowledge and priorities, and visual quality - to the scenarios that are tested and modelled using advanced forest planning software.

The MSFM program in the Faculty of Forestry’s Department of Forest Resources Management at UBC is a course-based masters program designed to provide students the opportunity to pursue their Registered Professional Forester designation in Canada or their Certified Forester designation in the United States, the release stated.

It’s accredited by both the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board and the Society of American Foresters and is the only program recognized in both Canada and the United States,” explained Byrne.


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