The other day when we drove toward town on Mountain View Road, we saw the smoke from across the river. I knew immediately what was burning...the giant piles of logs that were stripped off of the area where they made McBride’s environmental award winning sewage treatment lagoons. The unwanted trees that were cut, were then piled, and they sat there on the perimeter of the site for a couple of years. Now they were being converted to carbon.
I have always been appalled by the amount of waste that goes up in flame in central BC. True, it used to be worse. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, after an area had been logged, sites as large as 200 ha. (500 acre) were routinely torched, just to get rid of the scrap wood. The smoke would be so thick in the valley, that the mountains were obscured, and the sun was reduced to a orangish round glow in the sky. I couldn’t help but think of all the houses that could have been heated with all that wood.
In those early days, when I was working for the BC Forest Service, I was often part of the crew that walked around with kerosene “drip torches” lighting cutblocks. Blocks were generally lit in the middle, when that fire got really roaring, it would suck the air toward the middle, then up into the sky. Once this airflow was established, the outside areas of the block could be lit. The wind created by the fire in the center, would cause the perimeters to burn toward the center instead of spreading to the timber outside the block.
During one slashburn on the Goat River, the wind caused by the fire got so strong, forearm-sized chunks of wood were blown up into the air by the firestorm. Many burns “escaped”, often burning areas of virgin timber, larger than the original cutblock.
Restrictions have fortunately limited the cutblock slash burns. Huge piles are still put to the flame, but the burning has been very much reduced. Despite the reductions, it is still depressing to see all of the wood that is considered “junk” and is then burned just to get rid of it.
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