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Local community forest honoured for excellence in forest management

June 13, 2024 at 4:14 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

A Burns Lake community forest group has been honoured by the Province for excellence in forest management and wildfire mitigation.

Chinook Community Forest was presented with the 2024 Robin Hood Memorial Award on June 12, 2024, in Mackenzie.

“The people who manage and operate the Chinook Community Forest provide a great example of how community-based forestry enriches rural towns and economies,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “By making their community safer from wildfires and their rigorous sustainable forestry practices, the Chinook Community Forest has truly showcased excellence in community forestry.”

Chinook Community Forest has taken a leading role in sustainable forest management and wildfire mitigation in the Burns Lake area. In 2023, it completed 200 hectares of wildfire risk-reduction treatments around the community, along with surveying another 1,000 hectares for wildfire risk-reduction projects. A partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia led to Chinook Community Forest’s advanced LiDAR technology being used to track old-growth trees in areas prone to wildfire or pests. Chinook Community Forest’s commitment to sustainable forest management resulted in the reforestation of one million trees in 2023.

As an involved member of the Burns Lake community, Chinook Community Forest has supported events and organizations with $600,000 in donations during the past five years. Outdoor enthusiasts have Chinook Community Forest to thank for building 15 new recreation spots along the shores of Ootsa Lake.

Members of Chinook Community Forest were pivotal in the local response to the 2018 wildfires. Ken Nielsen, community forest manager at Chinook Community Forest, spent 10 weeks helping BC Wildfire Service respond to the Nadina wildfire. Once the fires were out, members of Chinook Community Forest jumped straight into wildfire salvage planning, wood salvage and forest rehabilitation. Following this wildfire, Chinook Community Forest put forward the idea of community forests taking a greater role in wildfire mitigation on the official agenda at the 2018 Community Forest Association Conference and Annual General Meeting.

“Despite their land base being severely impacted by beetles and wildfires, they are committed to resilience in their forest management and governance,” said Randy Spyksma, president, BC Community Forest Association. “The Chinook Community Forest board and their manager, Ken Nielsen, exemplify the innovation and dedication required to govern a partnership between six First Nations and two local governments. This award is well deserved.”

Chinook Community Forest is a partnership of six First Nations and two municipalities:

  • Lake Babine Nation
  • Wet’suweten Nation
  • Tsil kaz koh Nation
  • Cheslatta Carrier Nation
  • Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band
  • Skin Tyee Nation
  • The Village of Burns Lake
  • The Regional District Bulkley Nechako

As the recipient of the Robin Hood Memorial Award, Chinook Community Forest has received a $10,000 grant.

Community forests were established in 1998 as a pilot project to create local opportunities in recreation, wildlife and watershed management, while contributing to a more diversified forest economy. Bringing local values into the management of forests, community forests are partnerships between municipal governments, First Nations or organizations.

The Robin Hood Memorial Award for Excellence in Community Forestry was established in 2016 to honour the life and legacy of the late Robin Hood. The award is presented yearly to the community forest that best exemplifies excellence in community forestry.

Quick Facts:

  • There are 61 community forests operating in British Columbia.
  • The Community Forest Agreement program contributes approximately 2.1 million cubic metres of fibre per year, or 3% of the provincial total cut.
  • Chinook Community Forest covers more than 90,600 hectares of forest around the Burns Lake area and was established in February 2016.

Learn More:

To learn more about Chinook Community Forest, visit:

To learn more about community forests in B.C., visit:

To learn more about the BC Community Forest Association, visit:

A tribute with more information about Robin Hood’s effect on the community forest program can be found on the BC Community Forest Association website:

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