Cranbrook city hall. Trevor Crawley photo.

Council approves fuel treatment project up Gold Creek

Council also endorses grant applications for funding additional treatment and FireSmart activities

Cranbrook city council approved a treatment project on municipally-owned land up in the Gold Creek area, while also endorsing the pursuit of a pair of grants aimed at fuel mitigation and FireSmart activities.

The treatment project includes 48.9 hectares of land close to the city’s reservoir, which will be done through mechanical thinning in order to get a financial return on saleable saw logs, and then follow up with prescribed burns.

”The location of this proposed project adds to the good work that the City has completed in previous years, and helps to connect a larger landscape of treated lands that are managed by the City and the Crown,” reads a staff report. “This general area has been identified as a very high priority for fuel reduction on the Southern border of the City.

“Concerns about watershed protection are being addressed through the planning stages of this project, and City staff responsible for our watershed management have been consulted prior to this request being brought to Council.”

The city estimates that the land has 7,500 metres-cubed of saw log in the area and, depending on market conditions, could see a $40/metres-cubed windfall, which would be directed into a fuel mitigation reserve fund.

Scott Driver, the Director of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services, also sought council’s endorsement of two grant applications that, if successful, would provide funding for treatment innovation in riparian areas as well as funding for FireSmart activities.

“Wildfire has been on my mind all summer,” said Driver, during a presentation to city council on Monday night.

One grant offered by the Columbia Basin Trust would be used to develop a riparian guide for foresters that addresses issues of fuel management in riparian ecosystems, according to a staff report.

“City staff have recognized a risk to our residents, and potentially our water supply if we cannot develop an innovative plan to manage the risk that the heavy fuel load presents to our waterways,” reads the report.

An additional grant application, which was also endorsed, will be submitted to a program administered collaboratively between the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, First Nations’ Emergency Services Society, the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. and the provincial government.

Communities with a high risk of wildfire are eligible for up to $150,000.

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