Fire ecologist Bob Gray has been working with the City of Kimberley since they began looking at fuel management work within and around the city over ten years ago.
On Monday, September 28, 2020, Gray presented an overview of ongoing work to Kimberley City Council at their regular meeting. A lot has been done, a lot is going on, and a lot is planned for the future Gray told Council.
Any work involving prescribed burns is always subject to weather conditions, and Gray says that they were unable to get a good burn window this fall, and hope to make up for it in the spring.
Grey says there are eight years worth of thinning, slashing and burning projects in the Nature Park and the areas of Kimberley. With grant money for the work limited to $150,000 a year through the UBCM, funding gets eaten up quickly, and Gray says that some projects may have to be cut in half to get them done over two funding years instead of one.
A very interesting project he is in the process of establishing funding for looks at consequences of worst-case fires in Kimberley’s Matthew and Mark Creek watersheds.
Working with hydrologists and fire experts from Canfor, the province and the Ktunaxa, Gray and his team are looking at what the relative liklihood of a worst case fire occurrence is in the watersheds, and its intensity on the landscape.
A worst case scenario, he explained, was a fire that impacted greater than 20 per cent of the watershed. Anything above 20 per cent can affect water quality. And looking at climate change data, the study will look at how that would affect the likelihood of a fire.
They will look at what kinds of forest stand treatments mitigate key hydrologic risks (hillslope erosion, water yield, sediment yield) and how forest stand treatments have affected fire intensity and severity. And what are the trade-offs with hydrology, caribou habitat, carbon storage and timber supply?
Grant applications are still being developed for this three year project, but Gray says there is significant interest throughout the Columbia Basin.
“Once the methodology is worked out, anyone can use it,” he said.