Kimberley Fire Chief Rick Prasad presented the updated Wildfire Protection Program at a Council meeting on Monday, May 28, 2018.
Prasad explained that there have been some minor changes to the 2017 plan. He says the overall objective for the department’s Fuels Management Program is to reduce the hazard of substantial wildfire loss through fuels management. The tactics include the following:
– Fuel density reduction by restoring the ecosystem in the surrounding forest to the natural state.
– Minimizing the financial impact of fuels management by utilizing cooperative funding programs.
– Focusing both effort and funding toward the areas that pose the highest threat to the community.
Prasad says that the weather over the past year has been challenging for the department.
“Weather in the last 12 months has been something else. Summer really caused some delays going into the fall, and then into the spring this year we had more snow than we had hoped and that really dragged things out, then right away we went into dry conditions,” said Prasad. “We’ve seen some real different climate issues that have posed some problems.”
Despite the challenging weather, Prasad says things are still progressing.
“Overall we have made progress on some of the projects. Project 3-31 (Kimberley Nature Park thin/pile/burn), that project was really well attended through the winter. Those guys were working in the snow up to their waists,” said Prasad. “We do have a lot of piles to be burned [still] we just can’t get those done right now.”
He added that the department will try to time the pile burns for the fall, when a prescribed burn is also planned.
With regards to future projects, Prasad says the City is committed to continuing the work required to reduce the wildfire hazard within the community, seeking a balance of treating new areas and maintaining areas of prior treatment.
“Currently we are working with our fire ecologist, Bob Gray, on determining the next set of potential projects,” said Prasad.
He explained that the the UBCM Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI) is no longer active, and they are awaiting news of a program extension or replacement.
Councillor Darryl Oakley says it would be worth documenting the progress, or regress, of the forests for help with future funding.
“The more the forest grows, so do the hazards and risks,” he said.