UBCM grant will help prevent wildfires

Barbara Hendricks with news from Loon Lake Road, including a grant to help make the forests safer

Potholes a thing of the past (for now)

July began with the most beautiful blue sky and warm, if not hot, weather – just how summer at Loon Lake should be. The warm dry weather meant that finally the ranchers could get their first crop of hay in. This good weather period was also the time when Interior Roads and contractors came by and filled in some of the potholes along Loon Lake Road. Thanks to Interior Roads for their care and attention to Loon Lake Road. Let us all hope that the patching stays in the holes for a good long time.

Easy pine seed removal techniques welcome

As most of us have experienced regularly, time seems to pass very quickly with some aspects of life. For me, now, it is the surprising discovery that already in July the fir and pine trees have made large cones filled with seeds, when it seems not so long ago the air was carrying yellow clouds of pollen from the flowers. Well, nature must act quickly when winter-like weather rules for more than six months each year; and every year I am impressed. The crop of cones is good, which means lots of food for the birds and squirrels as well as lots of trees in the future. What I would like to discover now is an easy way to get the pine seeds out of the seed covers, so I can use them instead of the expensive pine nuts imported from other parts of the world. The seeds are really quite good tasting, but I do not have the patience to sit and shell enough for a batch of pesto. They make a good snack, though.

Missing the mourning doves

People come from all over to spend time at Loon Lake – to enjoy themselves, relax, renew their contact with nature, and spend time with family and friends. Many visitors remark on two things: the quiet, and the lovely sound of the running water in Loon Creek. I’m talking of adults; children have a different perspective. A body of water and lots of hillside soon means throwing small rocks into the water, and it is amazing how generation after generation has spent time in their summer holidays doing just that. One sound of nature that I miss this summer is the call of the mourning dove; they have gone elsewhere this year.

Well over the fishing limit

Fishing on Loon and HiHium lakes, as well as surrounding lakes, is one of the attractive reasons for coming to Loon Lake, and lately the fishing has been good. Some people, however, don’t seem to know when enough is enough. In mid-July four men from the USA were charged by Conservation Officers for possession of more than 56 fish caught in Loon Lake. They had come prepared with smokers and packing equipment, and had set up a whole little “factory” to process and preserve the fish. The men were fined $1,500 and their gear was seized. Locals had warned the men that what they were doing was wrong – the limit for fish on Loon Lake is five – but the warnings were ignored.

Fuel treatment grant

In December 2011 the TNRD Emergency Services Department presented a plan for an Operational Fuel Treatment program for the Loon Lake area. The goal was to reduce the amount of brush and other fuel on Crown land that could support a wildfire. The plan included a number of areas to be cleaned up, with work to be spread over a number of years. It was estimated at the time that work in the first priority area would cost $74,500. Those residents who knew about the plan generally endorsed the program, and the TNRD agreed to make the application to the Union of B.C. Municipalities for funding of the first phase of the clean up. On June 18 2013, the TNRD Board received notification that funding up to $64,411 has been approved for the project, which is to be completed within two years. The remaining funds to make up the $74,500 project cost are to be raised in the community.

Wildfire risk always a concern

The hot, dry weather over the last several weeks has meant that the risk of a wildfire has increased substantially. As of writing this, the Cariboo fire district indicated that the hazard rating was moderate, and advised people to please use caution near the forest. There has been an open fire burning ban in place for some time, but there has been no announcement of a campfire ban. It may come at any time, so do pay attention. Local resort managers are a good source of information on whether there is a ban or not.

Caveat emptor

In the first weeks of July a number of Loon Lake Road residents were contacted by Lloyd Schell, who is a salesman selling overpriced water filtration systems. He targets rural customers by calling them and offering free water quality testing. The test is bogus, and scares people into thinking their water is seriously contaminated. In June a woman from Quesnel went public after being scammed by Mr. Schell, whose high-pressure tactics enticed her into paying him nearly $2,600 for a reverse osmosis water filter system that can be purchased at most other places for under $400. In 2005 Mr. Schell was banned from sales in BC for five years after complaints from seniors about his high-pressure tactics. In Alberta he has been charged with conducting direct sales without a licence and failing to give a refund as required by law. On receiving a call from Schell, some savvy residents contacted the Clinton RCMP, who investigated and tracked Mr. Schell down in Clinton. It is understood that after a conversation with the local police, who reportedly warned Lloyd Schell about harassing local residents, he packed up and moved on. Please be on your guard if you get a call from someone offering to provide you with a free water quality test in your home, done on site in a few minutes. If you want your water tested there are labs that do this work, and at a reasonable cost. The Interior Health Drinking Water Officer can be very helpful in directing you regarding how to take samples and where to pick up the sample bottles, and recommending appropriate laboratories to do the testing. Watch out for the scam artists who try to scare you into giving away thousands of dollars for something that doesn’t work; they seem to like to target seniors and rural people. If you are unsure about something someone is offering to sell you, or feel you are being pressured into buying, there is Consumer Protection BC to contact, who will tell you if there have been any problems with the vendor (www.consumerprotectionbc.ca ).

Loon population in trouble

Bird Studies Canada has been operating a loon survey across Canada for some decade now. An interim study recently released indicates that common loon populations are in trouble, and that their reproduction has declined over the past 30 years. We have one resident volunteer who submits information on loons on Loon Lake to this survey. Last year there were reports of a loon successfully raising a young one on the lake, but no one reported this year. Will they disappear ? Well, it depends on us. Loon Lake without the common loon – then what could the name mean? http://www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/clls/

Blooming confusion

The fast shifts in weather patterns here are causing problems in the garden for those food crops that prefer a moderate climate throughout the growing season. Early bolting caused by frequent and sudden temperature shifts has meant the early end of cropping for many of the leafy vegetables, but the kale keeps on growing; thank goodness, as it is such a useful leafy vegetable. The shift from temperatures in the high thirties (day) to six degrees (night) a short time later is just too much for some plants, and they become confused. Wild raspberries, a gourmet delight, are now ripe – if you can find them.

Payphones becoming extinct

The CRTC has opened hearings regarding the telephone companies’ request to permit removal of the last pay phones in communities. This will cause problems for many local residents who do not have a cell phone, and will likely mean that in the future they will be unable to find a pay phone when they are in town. Comments to the CRTC on how not having access to a pay phone will affect you are to be submitted by Aug. 13. http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/t1047.htm

Barbara Hendricks