Funds help Telkwa manage fire risk

Village of Telkwa Councillor Brad Layton is confident the village will complete its primary fuels management project this summer.

Village of Telkwa Councillor Brad Layton is confident the village will complete its primary fuels management project this summer.

The province-wide initiative, Layton explained, was developed in the aftermath of the 2003 fire season, the worst in history in British Columbia.

Funded by the Ministry of Forests and Range, and administered by the Union of BC Municipalities, the program supports fuel management projects that reduce the risk of significant losses from wildfires.

“If you don’t deal with it now, you’re asking for trouble,” fuels management specialist with the Northwest Fire Centre, Tony Falcao said.

“If there’s no fuel, then the likelihood of a disaster is much lower.”

The Village of Telkwa applied for and received funds in 2010 to implement its community wildfire protection plan.

Telkwa received $400,000 from the province.

Together with in-kind donations from the Village of Telkwa and money raised selling salvaged pine beetle affected trees to PIR, the fuel management plan will finish with a price tag of a little more than $1 million, Layton said.

The Village of Telkwa wildfire protection plan includes several treatment options for high risk wildfire forest types in and adjacent to the municipality boundaries.

The priority zone, covering about 300 ha of forest, extends to 1.9 km outside of the municipal boundary, or the fire protection zone, Layton explained.

Fuel management in the priority zone involves clearing brush from the forest floor, as well as thinning out the forest.

“We’re lowering the amount of fuel on the surface,” Layton said.

The community wildfire protection plan also included the establishment of a firebreak as well as staging areas for fire crews and an area where helicopters can land.

The plan isn’t totally fireproof, but it gives us a fighting chance,” Layton said.

“We’re preparing for the worst-case scenario.”

Still left to do, Layton explained, is removing many piles of slash and residue wood remaining from the clearing operations.

Telkwa has a few options, from chipping to burning, although both have their downsides.

Chipping, Layton said, is fairly expensive and would test the budget, whereas burning the slash piles would produce smoke, which in turn could pose a health risk to residents in the area.



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