A BC Wildfire Service rapattack crew works in the Larch Hills to remove trees downed over the winter of 2019/2020. (Contributed)

A BC Wildfire Service rapattack crew works in the Larch Hills to remove trees downed over the winter of 2019/2020. (Contributed)

Shuswap’s Larch Hills abuzz with rapattack crews

Effort underway to remove hundreds of trees downed over winter

The swish of cross-country skiers gliding over snow in the Larch Hills has been replaced by the buzz of chainsaws and other machinery being used to remove hundreds of trees downed over the winter

While it provided an extended skiing season – at least until the Larch Hills ski area had to be closed due to COVID-19, last winter’s heavy snowfall was also responsible for an estimated 800 trees that fell on and along trails throughout the ski area.

George Jackson with the Larch Hills Nordic Society (LHNS) said normally the snow just falls from the trees, whereas last winter, the snow stayed on them, pressing them down.

“I’ve been involved with the club for a fair time and I talked to an old-timer and he said he’s never seen that many trees come down at once in the winter,” said Jackson. “He said it’s just a really rare snow occurrence.”

LHNS volunteers cleared what they could from the ski trails to keep the season going. Now, they’re back in the hills and working with BC Wildfire Service rapattack crews to continue with the cleanup before the snowpack melts.

“This spring, we put in a salvage permit, a licence to go in and clean up the area, and any merchantable timber we’ll utilize and send to the local mills…,” said Jackson.

“Rapattack, they have crews that are up there most days, they’ve been up there about three weeks… felling and bucking the timber and just working through the clean-up.”

Read more: Caution urged after snowstorm brings down trees throughout Larch Hills ski area

Read more: January brings record snowfall to Shuswap’s Larch Hills

All of this work is being done with an emphasis on social distancing due to Covid-19.

Jackson said BC Parks is onboard with the work effort needed in Upper Violet Creek Provincial Park, which is part of the ski area.

Jackson and the Larch Hills Nordic Society said they are grateful for the good working relationship they share with the B.C. government, the Shuswap Trail Alliance, Tolko, Gorman Brothers and local First Nations, which helps to get projects done in a timely manner.

“The Larch Hills Recreation Area is an amazing example of community groups and volunteers working together to provide a multi-use recreation destination, as well as a working forested area,” commented the society.

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