Pictured is Mark Creek, one of Kimberley’s two watersheds. This photo was taken during the spring freshet, when water levels are highest. Research is currently being done to find out how to guide future management for both of Kimberley’s watersheds. (Corey Bullock/Kimberley Bulletin file)

Building resilience to wildfire in Kimberley’s municipal watersheds

A team of researchers are studying how to guide future management of Kimberley’s watersheds

In a recent presentation to Kimberley City Council, Consultant Robert Gray explained that Kimberley is part of large research project that aims to increase resilience to wildfire, specifically in Kimberley’s Watersheds.

On Monday, September 9, 2019 Gray gave a presentation on ‘Building Resilience to Wildfire in Kimberley’s Municipal Watersheds’.

READ MORE: City wants baseline assessment of watersheds

He said that research on the past and future of fire risk in south eastern B.C. is being conducted by him and a team in the Okanagan along with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the Regional Districts and the Ktunaxa Nation.

They have started assessing costs and looking into the grants that are available for this work. He adds that they are working with the City to determine the risks, thin out material and “get stuff moving” in the Mark Creek and Matthew Creek watersheds. Part of that is applying to a new grant through the Columbia Basin Trust called the Wildfire Innovation Grant.

He explained that research to guide future management includes:

– How to model wildfire threat to watershed values

– How to mitigate that threat, recognizing not all fires will be able to be prevented

– What tools are most effective? At what scale and intensity?

– How to construct trade-off analysis in watersheds where there are competing values and multiple natural disturbance threats

– How to address wildfire threat to watersheds within the constraints of existing forest policy and funding programs

The project is expected to last two to three years, at which point, Gray says, all of the stakeholders will come together and ask, “what’s going to have to give?”

Gray says that wildfire risk stems from climate change and rising temperatures.

“Western Canada has the highest temperature growth globally,” said Gray. “Predictions show an increase in precipitation [in the future], but through stonger convective storms. It’s also getting hotter and drier both during the day and at night, especially compared to 30 or 40 years ago. That dry, cold front is what grows fires. For example, that’s why the Meachen Creek fire grew, it picks it up and moves it. We’re going to see higher incidence of strong wind events and longer fire seasons.”

He adds that in Canada, the spring fire season is expected to grow more than the fall season.

READ MORE: Kimberley to receive CBT Community Wildfire Education grant

Council discussed the plans for wildfire resilience research after Gray gave his presentation.

Councillor Darryl Oakley asked how far back researchers will be able to go in terms of looking at Kimberley’s history of the watersheds.

“The earliest topographical photos we have are from the 30’s and 40’s so we might be able to glean some history from those,” replied Gray. “The earliest timbre inventory dates back to 1910 and 1920. Also, we can look at cultural activity from the Ktunaxa Nation and piece together what those areas looked like.”

Councillor Jason McBain asked what tools are available to restore the watersheds back to a more resilient state.

“Whatever we do, we need fuel off of the ground,” said Gray. “We need to get rid of fuels and plant or keep anything that yields a very short flame length or creates a fire break. Aspen [trees] and shrubby plants are ideal. We need to clean up that forest floor as best we can.

“The precipitation this summer has helped, but drought will continue to be an issue. Density becomes the key thing; taller trees, grown farther apart. Weakened trees need to go as well, because they become susceptible to invasive insects.”

Mayor Don McCormick says that this is a large project, but he’s glad things are starting to move forward.

“This is not a short term process,” he said. “But you have to start somewhere.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
OPINION: Examining preliminary results from the 2020 BC Election

Some thoughts to ponder as British Columbia awaits the final results from mail-in ballots

Your Columbia River Revelstoke candidates; Nicole Cherlet (NDP); Samson Boyer (Green) and Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal). The polls are closed and ballots being counted. (File photo)
BC VOTES: Clovechok preliminary winner with 52 per cent of the vote

35 of 77 polls have reported and The Canadian Press is calling Clovechok winner

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read