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Regional District — Creating a fuel break on Elephant Mountain

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
October 5th, 2017

The view of the mountains and the forest it contains for most Nelsonites could be changing.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors has authorized an application to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to lower the wildfire risk on land near Pulpit Rock, directly across the West Arm of Kootenay Lake from Nelson.

On Sept. 21 the board approved application to the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI) program for $19,500 in prescription funding for 11.8 hectares of Crown land in Area F (North Shore), a move that could create a fuel break across the mountain.

A fuel break is a gap in vegetation or other combustible material that acts as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of a bushfire or wildfire.

The area in question on the North Shore is considered a wildland urban interface and is at risk from a wildfire, and was identified as such in the CWPP.

“The prescription will form a fuel break in the Pulpit Rock area which will help protect surrounding areas from wildfire,” said Nora Hannon, wildfire mitigation coordinator with the RDCK in her report to the board.

The prescription was nothing new, however, as it was contained in the 2016 approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for Area F.

“The RDCK has received favourable response to operational fuel treatments which reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire,” said Hannon.

“A prescription must be in place to undertake an operational fuel treatment.”

She noted that community consultation — including the Friends of Pulpit Rock Society and First Nations — was a key component of the prescription process and had already taken place.

The SWPI contributes a maximum of 75 per cent of the cost of eligible activities ($14,625). The required local government contribution from the regional district will come from Area F Community Development funding ($2,437.50), with the Columbia Basin Trust matching 50 per cent of the contribution.

The fuel management prescription for the North Shore is a document that identifies the objectives and strategies to lower the wildfire hazard in the identified area.

Prescriptions ensure that proposed treatments include “clearly defined objectives for fuel management that will result in a measurable reduction in the wildfire risk to a value,” while meeting all legislated and non-statutory requirements.

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