Notice of Forest Fuels Management in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District

Jul 30, 2020
Affected Communities: 
All Areas

Forest Fuels Management in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD)

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRORD) is responsible for the stewardship of provincial Crown land and natural resources, and for the protection of B.C.’s archaeological and heritage resources.

Areas within the SLRD have been identified as high wildfire risk areas, and, as such, MFLNRORD will undertake a number of forest fuels management projects aimed at reducing the wildfire risk in the area.

This work includes various thinning practices to remove fuel sources, integral to reducing the risk of interface fires, will take place during the summer months in 2020 and is to be completed by March, 2021.

The work will reduce the risk of wildfire to communities, provide better access to crews responding to wildfires in the area, provide safer evacuation for public, if needed, improve area ecosystems and assist with habitat restoration for species such as the Spotted Owl.

The work will include:

  • Removal of heavy undergrowth;
  • Pruning of lower branches on trees up to 3 metres in height; and
  • Widening the spacing between trees by removing smaller stems.

In each case where this work is undertaken, the material collected will be placed into piles no larger than 2 metres tall and three metres wide, in locations that will not increase fire risk for the summer of 2020.

The piles may be burnt to reduce smoke impacts as per the Ministry of Environment Open Smoke Control, if conditions permit, in the fall of 2020 or spring of 2021. If the piles are not burnt, another form of fibre utilization will take place such as chipping or small stem bucking and roadside stacking for local firewood consumption. Where possible, and if merchantable timber is produced from any of the projects, it will be sold to offset the costs of the treatment.

Please see additional details the links to the project area flyers and maps below:

Gates Lake – Birken (SLRD Electoral Area C)

Thinning will take place this summer, to be completed by March 20, 2021 in the area adjacent to the southern border of the Birken/Gates Lake community. The 27-hectare area is recognised as one of the highest wildfire risk areas in the Sea to Sky Natural Resource District. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, and prevent wildfire spreading into the tops of trees. It will also permit better access for crews responding to wildfires in this area.

The treatment will reduce the risk of wildfire to the community of Birken and provide a safer evacuation for the public if needed. The project will connect pre-existing fuel breaks in the area, to create a continuous fuel break that will reduce flame lengths and the rate of spread of wildfire approaching the community. The treatment will also improve ecosystem and habitat restoration for Spotted Owl and the Old Growth Management Area that overlay the treatment area. By reducing fuel in this area, it prepares for the option to initiate low intensity controlled burning to this forest. Low intensity natural fire was a normal and natural process within this ecosystem, which helped reduce the intensify of wildfire, maintain and enhance plants, birds, insects and other wildlife in the area, and create biodiversity.

Garibaldi Park Road (Ring Creek) – District of Squamish and SLRD Electoral Area D

Thinning will take place this summer in several treatment units amounting to a 20-hectare area, beginning on the Garibaldi Park Road just east of Quest University and moving eastward to the southern border of the Ring Creek residences. This area is recognised as one of the highest wildfire risk areas by the district of Squamish and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, prevent wildfire spreading into the tops of trees, and permit better access for crews responding to wildfire in this area.

The treatment will reduce the risk of wildfire to Squamish and the Ring Creek community and protect traffic along the Garibaldi Park Road which is heavily used by the public and forest industry and is the only evacuation road in and out for residents, tourists, and recreationalists.

A shaded fuel break will be developed as part of this project to connect pre-existing fuel breaks in the area. The fuel break will provide an area that will reduce flame lengths and the rate of spread of wildfires approaching the community. During the development of this fuel break, some dense small stemmed timber will be removed to reduce the overall fuel load in the forest, while retaining enough canopy to shade the ground and prevent future understory overgrowth. The fuel break will also help prevent fires moving into Garibaldi Park and high use recreational areas.

N’Quatqua, D’Arcy, Devine and SLRD Area C

The development of a fuel management prescription will take place beginning in the summer of 2020, to be completed by March, 2021 in areas adjacent to D’Arcy, Devine and the N’Quatqua Indian Reserve

The 104-hectare area within he corridor between Pemberton and D’Arcy has been identified as one of the highest areas at risk within the Sea to Sky Natural Resource District. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, will provide better access for crews responding to wildfires in the area, provide a safer evacuation for the public if needed, and will reduce the number of wildfires from railway ignitions.

Once the prescription has been completed, it will specify the exact treatment parameters to ensure the treatment will meet objectives according to the forest conditions, address any existing land management objectives and consider other elements of the local community such as fibre utilization, recreation, access and First Nations values.

Mackenzie Basin, Pemberton

Thinning will take place this summer in the area located on a south facing slope between the steep mountainside above and a new residential development along the Mackenzie Basin Forest Service Road below. The 101-hectare area is recognised as an area that could produce high intensity wildfires from the steep slope and drying effect of full exposure to summer sun. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, prevent wildfire spreading into the tops of trees, and permit better access for crews responding to wildfires in this area. The treatment will reduce the risk from wildfire to the community of Pemberton and provide a safer evacuation for the public if needed. This will also protect the Mackenzie Basin Forest Service Road which is the only evacuation road in and out for residents in this area.

By reducing fuel in this area, it prepares for the option to initiate low intensity controlled burning to this forest. Low intensity natural fire was a normal and natural process within this ecosystem, which helped reduce the intensify of wildfire, maintain and enhance plants, birds, insects and other wildlife in the area, and help create biodiversity.

Due to the large area, this work will progress over several years. Crews will remove heavy undergrowth and lower branches on trees and widen spacing between the trees. If merchantable timber is produced during this process, it will be sold to offset the costs of this treatment. Remaining material will be piled in piles no larger than 2 metres tall and 3 metres wide, in locations that will not add an increased fire risk for the summer of 2020. These piles will be burnt to reduce smoke impacts as per the Ministry of Environment Open Smoke control if conditions permit in the fall or spring over several years.

One Mile Hill, Pemberton

Thinning will take place this summer, south of Pemberton, on One Mile Hill. The 38.4-hectare area is recognised as a high wildfire risk area in the Sea to Sky Natural Resource District, due to the risk to infrastructure and the topographical funnelling effect this area provides for wildfire approaching Pemberton from the south.

This area has significant fuel loading due to fallen trees damaged by storms and the number of trees infested by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, prevent wildfire spreading into the tops of trees, and permit better access for crews responding to wildfire in this area. The treatment will reduce the risk from wildfire to Highway 99, multiple BC Hydro lines and Pemberton’s nearby water treatment plant. This area is heavily used by recreationalists and the project will also allow for safer evacuation of public.

This project will tie together multiple treatment areas to make a Landscape Level Fuel Break to create an area that will reduce flame lengths and the rate of spread of wildfires approaching the Pemberton from the south. This area routinely experiences winds from the south in the hottest parts of the summer.

Owl Ridge Development, SLRD Area C

Thinning will take place this summer in a 31.9-hectare area adjacent to Pemberton in the Owl Ridge Road area. This area is recognised as a high wildfire risk area. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, prevent the wildfire spreading into the tops of trees, and permit better access for crews responding to wildfire in this area.

The treatment will reduce the risk of wildfire to residences in the area and allow for safer evacuation of public in the event of a wildfire. A fuel break will be developed as part of this project, to connect pre-existing fuel breaks in the area. The fuel break will create an area that will reduce flame lengths and the rate of spread of wildfire approaching the community.

Walkerville Estates, SLRD Area C

Understory thinning will take place this summer in a 19.7-hectare woodlot area within the Walkerville Estates area. This area is recognised as a high wildfire risk area. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, prevent the wildfire spreading into the tops of trees, and permit better access for crews responding to wildfire in this area. The treatment will reduce the risk of wildfire to residences in the area and allow for safer evacuation of public in the event of a wildfire.

Reid Road development, SLRD Area C

Thinning will take place this summer in the Reid Road development area adjacent to the Village of Pemberton. The 4.2-hectare area located on a south facing slope below the mountainside and above the residents of Reid Ridge Road and is recognised as having a high wildfire risk. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, and prevent wildfire spreading into the tops of trees. It will also permit better access for crews responding to wildfires in this area.

This area has significant fuel loading from trees that have been pushed over by storms. By reducing fuel in this area, it prepares for the option to initiate low intensity controlled burning to this forest. Low intensity natural fire was a normal and natural process within this ecosystem, which helped reduce the intensify of wildfire, maintain and enhance plants, birds, insects and other wildlife in the area, and help create biodiversity. The treatment will reduce the risk of wildfire to the Reid Ridge community and provide a safer evacuation for the public if needed.

Cheakamus Canyon, SLRD Area D

Thinning will take place this summer in the Cheakamus Canyon area adjacent to the residences in the valley bottom. The 26.9-hectare area is recognised as having a predominantly high to extreme wildfire risk. Removing excess fuel will reduce wildfire occurrence, severity and spread, and prevent wildfire spreading into the tops of trees. It will also permit better access for crews responding to wildfires in this area. This treatment area will help strengthen the District of Squamish’s proposed fuel treatments along Highway 99 to Swift Creek. This highway is currently the one road in and out for evacuees and first responders. The treatment will reduce the risk of wildfire to the communities and provide a safer evacuation for the public if needed and will reduce the number of wildfires from railway ignitions.

For more information, please contact:

MFLNROD Sea to Sky District Office
101-42000 Loggers Lane
Squamish, BC
Telephone: 604-898-2100
Email: FLNRO.SeaToSkyDistrict@gov.bc.ca
 

 

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