We’ve all been experiencing the alarming and seemingly relentless blanket of smoke from wildfires in Washington, Oregon and even California in recent days. Many of us have also seen the horrifying maps and other images of towns, homes, forests, wildlife and natural environments devastated and damaged from these fires. The Nelson Star also recently revisited and updated a 2018 interview with Bruce Blackwell, a North Vancouver-based wildfire consultant who indicated that Nelson remains one of the most vulnerable small communities to wildfire destruction. Sadly, his assessment has not changed.
Closer to home, wildfires such as Talbott Creek remind us that local action is essential to protect our community and homes.
We agree there’s good reason for concern about this very real threat and so Kalesnikoff has been doing some work on this issue in collaboration with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and other key partners. In order to diminish the threat, we must first reduce the “fuel” which is, in this case, the trees and accumulated deadfall in the forest.
The RDCK has Community Wildfire Protection Plans, which have identified high-risk priority areas to reduce forest fuels in order to mitigate local wildfire threats adjacent to communities. The provincial funding model to implement the recommendations has been passed to the Ministry of Forest’s Wildfire Risk Reduction Program, which is a provincial collaboration with the BC Wildfire Service.
This fall, we will be engaging with the community about an important and significant wildfire mitigation project proposed near Nelson. This project involves working with the RDCK in coordination with other experts to create harvest plans to remove high-risk forest fuels where appropriate. These harvest plans generally focus on retention of the larger fire and drought-resistant tree species such as Douglas-fir, Western Larch and Ponderosa Pine, which will also provide shade to keep the forest floor cooler. The trees we harvest will be fully utilized by our local mills with an objective to get the right log to the right mill. Our participation will help ensure this work can be completed with the timeliness and urgency of the current and ongoing wildfire threat demands. This planning has been underway for several years, and we will soon reach out to hear feedback from the public.
These are frightening times, and we want to assure our community and neighbours that we are taking positive action through careful forest management and continued collaboration. We are committed to ensuring the ongoing health and resilience of our forests and our shared communities for generations to come.
Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.