City lands grant for three prescribed burn projects

Maintenance burns to reduce fuel loads, mitigate wildfire risks around the community

Cranbrook has been awarded $150,000 in grant funding that will be used for three fuel treatment areas around the city to reduce wildfire risk.

The grants, made available through a program through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, will go towards maintenance burn projects out at the Canadian Rockies Airport, land adjacent to Moir Park and a large section in the city’s watershed area.

Scott Driver, the Director of Fire and Emergency Services, said the treatment projects involve prescribed burns, adding that the time is right to tackle each of the areas now rather than waiting for more fuels to build up, which would require more expensive mechanical options.

“They were mechanically treated, then burned, quite a few years ago, and are in a condition again where a follow-up prescribed burn is the most effective way to treat the land before it gets to a place where we have to do that expensive mechanical treatment,” Driver said.

The three projects include a 22.8 hectare burn near the airport, a 7.8 hectare burn near Moir Park and a 114 hectare burn near the diversion in the watershed up Gold Creek road.

“We thought these three projects would be best served by applying fire to them right now so that we can continue keeping them — those spaces — in defensible, healthy conditions,” said Driver.

Historically, there are intermittent fire events on the Rocky Mountain trench landscapes, which are a natural way of removing fuels and underbrush, allowing forests and grasslands to regenerate and remain healthy.

Plans and preparation are underway to do the burns in the fall, when weather conditions and operational capacity are more favourable, according to Driver.

Additionally, the grant funding also included a component that will be used for a regional FireSmart strategy that will include coordination with the City of Cranbrook and the Regional District of East Kootenay.

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