The City of Cranbrook is working with partners to tackle forest fuel reduction on the city’s southern boundary. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.

Province to begin forest fuel reduction around Cranbrook’s southern boundary

The B.C. government is set to begin work on forest fuel reduction around Cranbrook’s southern boundary, based on a provincial program designed to reduce wildfire risks around communities.

The city, in conjunction with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRORD), Aq’am, the Ktunaxa Nation Council and licensees had developed a plan focusing on reducing the risk of wildfire in the area, according to a pres release issued by the city.

The southern boundary of Cranbrook is a particular concern regarding fears of a crown fire — a fire that burns the forest canopy — combined with prevailing south-westerly winds. Any wildfire that springs up in that area has potential to spread quickly, threaten cortical infrastructure, and force an evacuation of the city.

“I am very pleased with the amount of work which has been completed to date. We have been working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for 4 years”, said Lee Pratt, Mayor of Cranbrook. “I would personally like to thank the local MFLNRORD office and personnel as well as Minister Doug Donaldson in Victoria, for all the support they have given us. With this project, the citizens of Cranbrook can feel much better knowing our community is a lot safer from wildfire than it was in previous years.”

Over the last few years, the city has been lobbying the province and tenure holders to address the wildfire risk, given drier and hotter summers that has contributed to two of the worst provincial wildfire seasons on record in recent memory.

“Simply put, we have a fuel problem in BC and this important work is aimed directly at addressing that problem,” said Scott Driver, the Director of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services. “With wildfire seasons getting longer and more severe, the activities scheduled on our southern boundary increase the likelihood that a wildfire be contained by firefighting efforts, and that a community- wide evacuation can be minimized.

“We have narrowly dodged that reality a number of times in recent years and are extremely pleased with the progress being made on our Southern border with respect to crown fuels.”

Tackling forest fuel management is a complex matter when considering overlapping land use issues, tenure rights and jurisdiction on public and private properties adjacent to each other.

Accommodations and adjustments have been made to the fuel reduction plan with recreational users and range holders in mind. Fuel treatments within the fire break will continue ensure a forested landscape, however, what remains will be less dense and carry less risk of a crown fire.

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