Reducing forest fuels in Ootischenia

Removal of diseased/damaged trees–part of plan to lower fire risk

Preventive maintenance is the idea behind forest initiative

Preventive maintenance is the idea behind forest initiative

In April, crews from the Wildfire Management Branch are helping to reduce the high hazard crown land interface forest in Ootischenia. Local RDCK Area J Director Gord Zaitsoff is supporting the project by providing funding for a project manager to ensure the work is carried out according to a fuel management prescription developed for the area.

There are two treatment areas – one close to the Castlegar Golf Course and the other just off McPhee Road. These two treatment areas are the largest areas of crown land forest in Ootischenia. Treating these areas will provide a substantial reduction in the risk of fire in the new subdivision of Tower Ridge and the Castlegar Golf course.

The treatment will enhance the ability of the Wildfire Management Branch to protect both public and private property in the event of a fire. The primary goal of the project is to reduce the potential for extreme fire behaviour in the forest. This is done by removing surface fuels, thinning and pruning understory trees, and opening the canopy to lessen the chance of a fire reaching the crown and spreading.

Additional benefits of the treatment include improving forest health by removing diseased and insect-damaged trees, improving access for recreation and enhancing wildlife habitat. These activities will be carried out using a combination of manual labour and light machinery. Debris will either be burned in small piles or chipped.

One of the fuel management objectives for Ootischenia is to demonstrate the principles and practices of FireSmart and vegetation management to community members and the public.  Residents in the wildland/urban interface zone are encouraged to ‘Fire Smart’ their own properties.

The RDCK completed their Community Wildfire Protection Plans in 2008.  Since then, over 200 ha have been treated in communities throughout the RDCK.  The Ootischenia treatment is being carried out following a fuel management prescription developed in 2011.