The forestry program at an Okanagan high school has been judged the province's best. Photo Credit: School District 22.

An Okanagan high school has been recognized for its innovative forestry program, judged best in the province.

For 45 years, Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby has run a hands-on course teaching students about all aspects of forestry.

Topics include harvesting and reforestation, wildfire mitigation, using genetics to improve tree stock, and containing the spread of the Douglas fir beetle. The skills students learn in the program can lead to jobs not only in forestry, but also mining, construction, oil and gas, and road-building.

Students have managed a provincially-assigned woodlot since 2002, harvesting the trees to provide revenue to help run the program.

"Congratulations to Charles Bloom Secondary for leading the pack, and kudos to Martin Tooms, the teacher who is the driving force behind the program," said Jeff Beale of the Federation of B.C. Woodlot Associations.

The province has given a grant of $5,000 to Charles Bloom Secondary. "I'm encouraged by the work that Charles Bloom Secondary school is doing to prepare the next generation of forestry workers," says forests minister Doug Donaldson.

"It's a pleasure to name the school as this year's provincial and south area award recipient for innovation and excellence in woodlot management," Donaldson said.

Woodlots are small forestry tenures managed by individuals, groups, or First Nations. There are about 850 woodlots in B.C., providing about $200 million worth of timber annually.

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