Williams Lake will be the beneficiaries of a number of wildfire reduction projects to reduce the size and intensity of future wildfires.
Preliminary fieldwork and planning for these projects began in 2019, and projects will happen throughout the rest of 2020, and into 2021 with risk reduction activities including:
- removing hazardous trees and flammable shrubs;
- reducing woody debris and other fuels on the forest floor by piling and burning or chipping and grinding the material for off-site use;
- thinning forested areas by cutting smaller trees and some mature trees; and
- pruning low-hanging tree branches to help prevent fire from moving into treetops
In addition to making it easier for firefighters to defend the community against future wildfires, these projects will improve the long-term health and resiliency of forests and enhance habitat for mule deer and other wildlife.
Andrea Klassen, the communications officer with the Cariboo Natural Resource Region, said that projects were spearheaded by the District of Cariboo/Chilcotin.
“After the 2017 fires, it really put into perspective the need to kind of manage these fuel loads, these forest build-ups around our communities,” she said. “We need to make sure we are doing what we can to just to make sure we don’t see more of those kinds of mega-fires situations that we saw in that year.”
The reduction activities will take place in the Fox Mountain and South Lakeside neighbourhoods. In Fox Mountain, the activities will take place in the forested area behind homes on Pheasant Drive and Gannet Road. In South Lakeside, work will take place east of Kinglet Road and Fetters Drive and south of Bluff View Drive.
Klassen said they are just starting with those two neighbourhoods.
“It’s going to take place in quite a few neighbourhoods over the course of the project,” she said. “We’ve got about 1,200 hectares overall throughout the community that we want to do based on where priority areas have been identified.”
During this project, the Billy Goat, Russet Bluff and Southside trails will be closed on days when contractors are working nearby. Signage and roadblocks will be placed on the trails during these times.
Many of these locations were identified as treatment priorities in the Williams Lake and Area Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which was developed by multiple agencies, communities and First Nations.