Stephanie Ewen (left) will be taking over the reins from Ken Day as manager of the UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest in Williams Lake. Day’s last day of work at the job is Feb. 16. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest manager retiring after three decades

Ken Day has been with the research forest in the Williams Lake area since its inception in 1986

After 31 years at the helm, Ken Day is passing over the reins of his role as manager of the UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest.

Day’s last day is Feb. 16 and Stephanie Ewen, who has been easing into the role while learning from him, will take over.

“A big part of the manager’s role is the administrative aspects — budgeting and financial accountability and managing a small staff — but beyond that the manager’s job is to make sure we have effective relationships with all those different spheres that we work in,” said Day.

Those areas are in research, teaching, working with local forestry companies who buy logs from them, the ministries of forests and environment and anyone else interested in what the research forest is doing.

Day was with the research forest since its inception and said it was born out of an economic development commissioned by the Cariboo Regional District in the mid 1980s.

“The CRD chief administrative officer at the time took that to the regional manager with the Ministry of Forests in the Cariboo Region, and the president of the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturers’ Association,” he recalled. “He said it was a good idea to have forestry education in the Cariboo and asked what could be done.”

Working with licensees, they came up with an idea for the research forest and invited UBC to get on board.

Dean Bob Kennedy said the university was interested and obtained a substantial start-up grant from the province, that was facilitated by Alex Fraser.

In 1986, they put out an ad to hire a resident forester.

Day, who graduated from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., but was working as a consultant in the Okanagan at the time but did not have permanent employment, was encouraged to apply by his boss.

Ewen grew up in the Lower Mainland and has a forestry degree from UBC and a Master’s in Forestry from Universit√© Laval.

For 10 years she focused on growth and yield in forestry, analyzing the growth rate of trees, and then came to Williams Lake from 2014 to 2016 to work as a planner with the research forest.

In the last year and a half she has been consulting in the Lower Mainland focusing on licensee management.

“This is a great place to work in terms of being able to try different ideas on how to deal with management issues,” Ewen said. “I really enjoy working with licensees in Williams Lake to try to come up with solutions that they are dealing with and testing the different types of treatments they want to implement on a larger scale outside the research forest.”

A total of 10,000 hectares make up the research forest’s two areas — one is at Gavin Lake and the other south of 150 Mile between Jones Creek and Knife Creek on the east side of Highway 97.

Funding for the research forest is generated completely by the sale of logs from a 20,000 cubic metre annual allowable cut.

The summer’s wildfires will force the forest to take eight years worth of its cut in the next three years because it will be important to salvage the burned trees while they are viable.

“Ripple that through, in order to be sustainable, that means she will have to scale back for at least five years to make up for the over cut,” Day said.

Ewen said a research project was put on hold because of the fires, but it is creating some new research opportunities they were not intending on doing.

“It’s reactionary, not planned,” she added.

A retirement party was held for Day on Thursday, Feb. 8 at Scout Island Nature Centre.

After an escape to Costa Rica to celebrate, he plans to work as a consultant, but not full-time.

Day also managed the Williams Lake and Williams Lake Indian Band community forest up until the end of December 2017, when upon his pending retirement the board selected registered professional forester Hugh Flinton and registered forest technician Kent Watson of C&P Management Group Inc. to take over the managing role.

Read More: Forestry project aims to protect Williams Lake from wildfire threats

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