Blog

Helping to Protect our Communities from Wildfires

The welcome arrival of Spring and the Province’s recent announcement about the 2019 wildfire season has some people wondering and even worrying what the coming season will bring to our local Kootenay communities.

 

Kalesnikoff has been doing some work on this issue in collaboration with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and other key partners, and we agree there’s good reason for concern about this very real threat. The Nelson area has been identified as the most vulnerable B.C. community[1] to wildfire using a Geographic Information System (GIS) and provincial fuel type analysis.  (The “fuel” in this case being the trees and accumulated deadfall in the forest.)

 

There are many measures landowners can take to reduce the risk of wildfire and these are particularly important for properties near or adjacent to the natural forest. It’s important for landowners to familiarize themselves with some of these steps, including ensuring buildings have non-combustible material on the roof and siding, safe storage of highly flammable items on your property and, importantly, managing high-risk fuel near and in the surrounding forest.

 

The Regional District of Central Kootenay has been creating and updating its Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP’s) to help mitigate local wildfire risks by, among other measures, reducing forest fuels in strategic areas identified as posing the highest risks to adjacent communities. While there’s funding available for this work through the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) and other sources, the work tends to be very labour-intensive and therefore costly, creating a significant burden on taxpayers, which could delay this work and limit its overall scope more than most people would prefer given the significant threat and urgency.

 

Kalesnikoff has been working closely with the RDCK on this important issue, offering our expertise in sustainable forest management and operational planning, in order to obtain the permits required to carry out forest fuel reduction treatments.

 

This summer we will be working with the RDCK in coordination with other experts and local communities to create harvest plans, where appropriate, to remove high-risk forest fuels.  These harvest plans generally focus on retention of the larger drought and fire-resistant species such as Douglas-fir, Western Larch and Ponderosa Pine, which will also provide shade to keep the forest floor cooler. We will either mill or sell the trees we remove, significantly reducing the overall cost to the taxpayer or in some cases generating a net revenue for the Province. Our participation will help ensure this work can be completed with the timeliness and urgency the current wildfire threat demands.

 

You’ll be hearing more about this from us and our partners over the spring and summer as plans and activities evolve, and we’ll be meeting with various communities to discuss their local wildfire threats and mitigation considerations.

 

If you’re a private landowner and you’re concerned about wildfire risk on your property, there are a few resources available to you:

 

If you have a small property (< 10 acres), the Province of BC has shared some Wildfire Prevention tips and guidance, and FireSmart Canada is another good national information resource.

 

If you have 10 acres or more of trees on your property, Kalesnikoff may be able help you through our wildfire risk assessment and management program. You can learn more here.

 

Let’s keep this important work and conversation moving forward.

 

Gerald Cordeiro

 

 

[1] Of B.C. communities with over 10,000 residents.

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