MRB staff and Golden fire jumpers take on a similar treatment at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. (Photo Contributed)

District of Elkford kicks off Wapiti Wildfire Risk Reduction Project

Falling, pruning, pile burning, and the removal of surface fuels will reduce the area's wildfire risk

  • Jan. 29, 2021 12:00 a.m.

The Wapiti Wildfire Risk Reduction Project has begun on Wapiti Ski Club property, initiating a series of treatments on 20 hectares of forest in an effort to create a more defensible area to suppress wildfires and protect the District of Elkford.

The project will reduce forest fire intensity and spread by thinning understories through manual and mechanical falling, pruning, pile burning, removal of surface fuels, and fibre removal.

“(The project) prevents a fire from getting into the forest canopy which can create a crown fire that is challenging to suppress and causes greater risk to the community,” said Reg Nolander, senior manager of the Mountain Resorts Branch.

“The proposed treatment areas were identified as high priority for fuel management in the District of Elkford Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update due to their proximity to private residences, high recreational value and critical infrastructure.”

Dominant and codominant canopy trees, live deciduous trees and shrubs with high moisture content will be retained whenever possible to maintain a cool and moist under story microclimate that helps reduce fires. Wildlife trees will also be retained whenever safe and practical.

“Only a minimal amount of timber will be harvested and removed, the focus is on smaller diameter trees and surface fuels,” said Nolander.

The project is funded by the province’s Wildfire Risk Reduction program, and is being overseen in a number of locations by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s Mountain Resorts Branch (MRB) in association with the BC Wildfire Service in an effort to protect mountain resort communities, critical infrastructure and provincial assets on Crown Land.

“MRB has collaborated with the District of Elkford, Sites and Trails BC, BC Hydro and various recreational groups to minimize impact to residents.”

Signs will be posted to both to inform residents and to ensure safety to the public during operations.

The current treatment area is located at the base of the ski hill, next to private properties and critical infrastructure.

All burning will be carried out in compliance with the Open Burning and Smoke Control Regulations to reduce the impact of smoke, with burn piles no larger than two metres by three metres located at least 100 metres from private residences. Further burning will occur in fall of 2021.

For more information, call 250-371-3952 or email mountainresortsbranch@gov.bc.ca.

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