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Forest thinning/pruning to reduce wildfire risk disrupts public access on Mount Tzouhalem/Shquw’utsun

Tree removal related to a wildfire-mitigation program underway on Mount Tzouhalem/Shquw’utsun in North Cowichan will disrupt public access to some trails over the next several weeks.

Crews with chain saws and machinery are working to reduce fire risk next to residential homes by thinning the forest, pruning lower branches, and removing fuels and dead, diseased or rotting trees.

Anyone planning to mountain bike the following trails should watch for work-related closures: Resurrection, Double D, Bisection, Danalyzer Lower, and Ronnie’s Rockin Ride. Work will be suspended on weekends to minimize conflict with visitors.

A Diamond Head Consulting report on the project reads: “Surface fuels will be managed to ensure that surface fire intensity will not support transition to crown fire under typical summer fire weather conditions.” ( The area is dominated by 60-80-year-old Douglas firs, the report notes.


Most of the larger rotten or danger trees felled within the current 12-hectare treatment area will remain on the ground as coarse woody debris. A total of 76 hectares have been identified for treatment on Mount Tzouhalem, taking several years to complete.

The decay of coarse woody debris adds nutrients to the forest and contributes to biodiversity by providing habitat for invertebrates. Species ranging from woodpeckers to bears forage for ants and other insects in the wood.

The Diamond Head report says the project requires the retention of about 50 pieces of coarse woody debris per hectare, with a preference for larger pieces greater than 25 centimetres in diameter at the top and greater than five metres in length.

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“This work is in the early stages, so it is too soon to tell if the…targets will be exceeded or not,” municipal forester Shaun Mason said Thursday.

“Should the coarse woody debris exceed the required amount, where/when possible it will be made available as firewood and/or offer to the Cowichan Trails Stewards Society who can often use it for trail infrastructure such as decking and/or beams for trail features. Any debris that is not suitable for firewood or trail infrastructure will be chipped and taken offsite….”

The wildfire-mitigation program follows receipt of a $200,000 grant from the Community Resiliency Investment Program.

Similar work will also take place on Maple Mountain.

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— Larry Pynn, March 16, 2023


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