Alex Fraser Research Forest Tree Planters Still Compensating For 2017 Cariboo Wildfires

The devastating wildfires of 2017 may have happened three summers ago but for people living and working in the Cariboo region, they seem like yesterday.

UBC Forestry’s Alex Fraser Research Forest (AFRF) manager Stephanie Ewen says their tree planting seasons continue to factor in the fire damage to their forest that stretches across 10,000 hectares in south-central BC, and lies adjacent to Beaver Valley near Quesnel and San Jose Valley near 150 Mile House.

Alex Fraser Research Forest post-wildfire destruction

2017 Fires Worst in BC History

Following the summer of 2017, the BC government reported the season was the most damaging in the province’s history to that point in time. Over 1.2 million hectares burned and 96 percent of the area affected was in the Cariboo, Kamloops and South East Fire centers with 80 percent of that total located in the Cariboo region.

“In 2019, we had our largest tree planting year ever with 300,000 trees being planted,” Ewen recalls.

Tree Planting Process

Ewen explains the planning that goes into a tree planting season easily starts two years in advance of the work, and often even longer. It begins with analyzing the site and growing conditions and eventually leads to the seedlings going to a nursery where they grow for a season and are protected, followed by being packaged up and put into freezers until they have been safely transported to their end destination.

Tree planters standing among the wildfire damage at the Alex Fraser Research Forest

Throughout June 2021, 12 tree planters worked throughout AFRF to plant their 175,000 trees consisting of Douglas fir, Interior Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, and White Spruce. Typically, one planter can plant anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 trees a day and an average total of 100,000 per season depending on the terrain and length of planting seasons. This year’s quota meant the team was done over a period of approximately three weeks.

“They were a great crew and worked steady. We’re very pleased with the results,” says Ewen.

Temperatures Soaring Early This Summer

With concerns raised about June’s record heatwave, hitting Western Canada and reaching temperatures beyond even the typically hottest months of the year, Ewen and other foresters are hoping for some much-needed precipitation in the coming weeks.

“For every day of rain we may see now, I am very grateful.”

About the Alex Fraser Research Forest

The Alex Fraser Research Forest showcases sustainable forest management practices in a range of forest ecosystems of the BC Interior. It provides long-term site security for research projects, inexpensive researcher accommodation, and an outdoor classroom for both education and demonstration. Students, researchers, professionals, and visitors are welcome. To learn more visit the Alex Fraser Research Forest website.

Posted in:

Related Articles