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Vernon woman tops among B.C.’s pro foresters

Tawnya Collins named Pro Forester of Year by provincial body for her work with wildfires
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Vernon registered professional forester Tawnya Collins is the 2021 Association of BC Forest Professionals’ Professional Forester of the Year for her work protecting communities from wildfires. (Shelanne Justice Photography)

Newly arrived Tawnya Collins brings vast wildfire knowledge to her new North Okanagan home in Vernon.

As well as some major recognition.

Collins, a registered professional forester (RPF), is the 2021 Association of BC Forest Professionals’ Professional Forester of the Year for her work protecting communities from wildfires.

The Professional Forester of the Year award recognizes an RPF for outstanding recent service to the profession of forestry and furthering the principles of the ABCFP.

Collins was presented with the award Feb. 4, during a virtual ceremony held as part of the ABCFP 74th annual forestry conference.

“The 2021 Professional Forester of the Year is Tawnya Collins, RPF, in recognition for her outstanding work in community wildfire resilience in the Fraser Canyon, including the Lytton and Lillooet areas,” said Garnet Mierau, RPF, ABCFP president.

Collins has spent the past decade working on wildfire resilience in Spuzzum, Lytton, Lillooet, T’sal’alh, Ashcroft, and Nicomen. Her work includes development of community wildfire protection and forest fuel management plans, writing and implementing operational prescriptions for forest fuel management.

Although the Lytton Creek wildfire burned through several of the treated fuel management areas Collins prescribed, reports indicate that the treated areas dropped the running crown fire down to a less intense surface fire. Wildfire suppression personnel were also able to incorporate the treated areas into strategic planning for containment and direct suppression activities.

Collins, who moved to Vernon in November, was living in Lytton during the fire at the end of June. She and her two children were evacuated from their house for a month due to the wildfire.

“Our house in Lytton was spared, but the fire came within one kilometre of it,” Collins said.

“Tawnya’s dedication to assisting and protecting communities is highlighted by the fact that even while she was evacuated, she continued her work on projects focused on community wildfire resilience planning,” said Mierau.

“Her years of work with the Skuppah and Nicomen Indian Bands also played a significant role in preventing these communities from being lost in the wildfire.”

The Association of BC Forest Professionals is responsible for registering and regulating B.C.’s 5,500 professional foresters and forest technologists.

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