A few gaps need to be filled to complete a network of fuel breaks around Revelstoke, according to a new report received last week.
The report, by Archie McConnachie, the retired manager of the Revelstoke wildfire base, and forestry consultant Cindy Pearce, looks at the network of fuel breaks around Revelstoke, and identifies places where such breaks don’t exist.
The good news is that most of the community is surrounded by natural and man-made breaks. Only three spots are identified as in need of fuel reduction to complete the network and reduce the risk of wildfire to the community.
“There’s so much forest around the community that trying to firesmart it all isn’t possible and would be very expensive,” said Pearce. “We’re really lucky to have a whole bunch of natural and man made breaks that create a network around the community already.”
The existing breaks include the BC Hydro power lines and Highway 23 south to the west, the transmission line that crosses the Columbia River from the main power lines into town, the Trans-Canada Highway to the east, north and west; the Begbie Creek area; and the Devil’s Club run and North Bowl area of Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
The areas that need to be addressed are the South Revelstoke area along Airport Way, the Greeley Creek area, and Mount Revelstoke National Park.
For the first two areas, a series of meetings is being held to educate people on FireSmarting their property and to provide input for fuel break design.
For the latter, Parks Canada is developing a fire management plan that would include identification of wildfire risks and fuel treatment options that would complement the Trans-Canada Highway.
“Because of the high to extreme community values of the highway, the CPR line, the homes there, you need a really significant break and the highway just isn’t wide enough,” said Pearce.
According to the report, Revelstoke gets high and extreme wildfire conditions for an average of 20 days per year, and for up to two months in very bad years. The most recent wildfires in the area took place in 2003 and 2006, though they did not result in serious threats to town.
The report looked at an area within two kilometres of Revelstoke’s fire protection zone, as well as South Revelstoke and the Greeley area.
Fuel reduction projects will be conducted in areas that lack existing fuel breaks. Residents in at-risk areas are advised to fire-smart their properties in order to reduce the impact of fire.
“We thought it would be a major issue with the need to do fuel treatments all the way around town, but it turns out there’s already a network of fuel breaks in place,” said Pearce.
Neighbourhood meetings wil be held:
— Tuesday, May 26, at 7 p.m., at the Hillcrest Hotel for residents of Columbia Park, CPR Hill and Johnson Heights.
— Wednesday, May 27, at 7 p.m., at the Nordic ski lodge for Begbie Bench residents
— Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m., at the Sutton Place Hotel for Arrow Heights and South Revelstoke residents.
Check out the media advisory, fuel break descriptions and a backgrounder on the project below.