Update – February 2012
What’s been going on? Fuel Treatment projects have been the focus of Rossland’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Implementation over the past year and a half.
Fuel treatment projects reduce hazardous forest fuel buildup around the community – this reduces the chance that a fire will burn hot or spread quickly through the treated area.
Starting in the fall of 2010, Rossland participated in a Tri-Regional District Fuel Treatment Program under which ~22 hectares of public, high hazard interface lands (outlined on map at left) were treated to reduce wildfire hazard at no cost to the City.
The before and after pictures below dramatically show the results of fuel treatment – note the big reduction of woody surface debris – the slashy material that causes forest fires to burn hot. Also note the removal of small diameter trees ‘ladder fuels’ that can spread a surface fire upwards and create fast spreading ‘crown fires’. Larger logs are less of a fire hazard and were left on the ground and cut so they contact the ground to rot and build forest soil. Hazardous trees were felled and wherever possible standing dead stems were left as ‘wildlife trees’ – providing habitat for birds and small animals. Public response has been positive – people like the look of the treated forest and appreciate the reduced wildfire hazard.
Fuel treatment work is all done in compliance with a detailed prescription – prepared by professional foresters. Numerous issues such as watershed protection, slope stability, endangered species habitat, invasive plants, archeological preservation all have to be considered before fuel treatment can start.
A Nelson forestry contractor – Apex Forest & Wildfire Services was selected to do the work. Trained local crews worked hard to cut, pile and burn the areas before the snow got too deep in the fall or the fire hazard increased in the spring.
Hundreds of piles of woody debris were burned using a ‘hot fed’ pile burning technique that keeps burn piles hot and relatively smoke free. Crews follow a detailed burn plan established by Fire Dept. and Forest Service officials – daily consultation with Ministry of Environment forecasters avoids burning under poor smoke venting conditions.
Where possible, firewood was bucked into lengths and piled for local residents to pick up.
More recently, the provincial government announced the availability of Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative grant monies for fuel treatment work identified in Community Wildfire Protection Plans.
In the summer and fall of 2011, Rossland applied for and received grants to complete prescriptions and fuel treatment work on an additional 25 hectares of high hazard interface lands (outlined on maps below) to be treated at relatively little cost to the City (grants cover 75% of prescription and 90% of fuel treatment costs). These fuel treatments are scheduled to start in the spring of 2012.
CoR Fuel Treatment Units - Map 1 Black Bear
CoR Fuel Treatment Units - Map 2 Highway
CoR Fuel Treatment Units - Map 6 Iron Colt
CoR Fuel Treatment Units - Map 7 Star Gulch
Future plans include revising Rossland’s CWPP to incorporate the important watersheds in the northern portion of Rossland’s municipal footprint and applying for grants to complete prescriptions and fuel treatment work in these important watershed areas. Updates on this process will be posted in the forthcoming months.
Teck Minerals will be commencing fuel treatment work on some of the high hazard interface lands that it owns adjacent Rossland and prescriptions have already been completed with fuel treatment scheduled to commence in the spring of 2012.
Teck fuel treatment areas map