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Pemberton wildfire plan ready

Presentation at public meeting scheduled for July 26

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The risk of wildfire rises with the temperature. And with recent temperatures topping 30° C, the timing for unveiling Pemberton’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan is perfect.

The recently completed Village of Pemberton plan will be unveiled at a public meeting on Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m. at the Pemberton Community Centre.

The plan assesses fire risk throughout the Pemberton Valley and offers a variety of solutions as to how residents can reduce the risks. Davies Wildfire Management, a company that has done extensive fire risk reduction planning throughout the Sea to Sky corridor over the past two years, developed the plan that employs FireSmart concepts. Company principal John Davies will present the plan at the meeting.

Annually, B.C. experiences more than 2,000 forest fires, most caused by lightening. Last summer, a thunderstorm generated 24 lightning strikes in the mountains surrounding Pemberton that resulted in 23 separate "spot fires," all of which were less than one acre in area. Since the lightning strikes occurred at elevations of more than 3,000 feet the fires were not a threat to homes, farms and businesses in the community. In recent history, no forest fire has endangered the community.

"The landscape doesn’t look like there’s been a fire in quite a while," confirmed Davies.

In contrast, he points out that while driving through nearby Lillooet he saw evidence of "six or seven" old fires. He doesn’t like to speculate on what this could mean, but points out Whistler and Pemberton are anomalies when it comes to communities surrounded by forests.

The province has also granted Pemberton Provincial Fuels Management Pilot Project Status. The project provides funding to conduct "fuel hazard reduction treatments" within the interface areas of the village.

"The interface areas are the areas surrounding the municipality; areas that would have an effect on us if they caught on fire," explained Bryan Kirk, administrator for the VOP. "We received $20,000 to thin and prune these areas."

Kirk says the provincial funds are a good start, but given the size of the actual area, not enough money to complete all of the work.

Adequate thinning and pruning measures are costly because of the extent of the work. The B.C. Forest Service website outlines measures for making your home FireSmart using this clean-up and culling technique, a precaution to consider particularly if your property is adjacent to forested areas. Their suggestions:

• Thin trees to leave three metres (10 feet) of separation. Remove dead or highly flammable trees first.

• On level ground, thin stands of trees within two "tree heights", a minimum (100 feet) of the structure.

• On sloped ground, thin down slope stands of trees to a greater distance of the structure. On steeper slopes, thin trees further down slope from the structure.

• Remove trees or brush growing under taller trees.

• Prune trees and remove branches within 2.5m (8 feet) of the ground.

• Regularly perform a general cleanup. Remove and dispose of logs, needles, twigs and shrubs that encourage fire to spread on the ground. Keep firewood and debris piles at least 10 metres (30 feet) away, although never down slope, from a structure.

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