For the Bulletin
For thousands of years, fire has played an important role in the forests around Kimberley. Before we humans got good at putting them out, low intensity fires burned every 15 -20 years in some areas, killing most of the juvenile conifers but sparing the larger older trees. You can see from the big old stumps with springboard notches in parts of the Nature Park that forests in many areas were more open than they are today.
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Biologists and fire ecologists have looked at the Kimberley Nature Park and expressed concern about the in-growth of smaller trees and the risk to both the Park itself and the town of Kimberley of a major wildfire. The risk has been compounded by the endemic pine beetle infestation in the Park which has killed thousands of trees over the last decade. In some areas there is a significant amount of dead wood on the forest floor just waiting to burn.
In response, the City of Kimberley has been working with the Kimberley Nature Park Society and Provincial agencies to plan and implement fuel reduction treatments in the Park. These treatments have included selective logging, prescribed burning and hand thinning, piling and burning. Since 2006, 137 hectares of the Park have received treatment and this year another 41 hectares will be hand thinned, piled and burned using funding from the Union of BC Municipalities Community Wildfire Protection Program. Most of the larger trees will be left standing and the result will be a more open, fire-resistant forest.
Work has now begun along Duck Pond Trail and will soon start on the top and south side of Myrtle Mountain. More work will be done later in the summer close to town along Ponderosa Trail and Patterson Ridge. The crews will be falling small trees and dicing up much of the woody debris on the forest floor. The diced material will be piled up and left to dry out over the summer and then burned in the fall when the weather allows it to be done safely. There will be times when crews are falling trees and trails will need to be closed to hikers and bikers. Please respect the signs and the work crews and allow them to work unhindered.
You can find updates on the fuel treatment process on the Kimberley Nature Park website at www.kimberleynaturepark.ca