The wildland/urban interface is an area where residential, industrial or agricultural structures exist within proximity to combustible wildland vegetation. An interface fire has the potential to burn both structures and wildland vegetation at the same time. Interface fire fuel management has become an area of significant importance for all municipalities.
After the devastating wildfires in communities around BC in 2003, the Province of British Columbia challenged local governments in BC to address their wildland/urban interface fire hazards with a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (PDF). Prince George is among the first communities to have completed such a plan, and is in the process of implementing it.
The City of Prince George worked with consultants and the Ministry of Forests and Range, to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan to guide the management of wildfire risk to the City. The strategy addresses the entire area enclosed by the city limits, and examines the risk of fire up to 10km outside the City's boundary.
Fire Fuel Treatments
Starting with sites ranked Very High and High, fire fuel treatment activities are being carried out. Each site has a specific treatment prescription developed by BA Blackwell and Associates Ltd.
They are Canadian forestry consultants with diverse experience in a range of forest management disciplines and are at the forefront of Canadian forestry and forestry practice in BC. They have worked with the environment department for several years to develop plans and prescriptions to reduce forest fuels that contribute to wildfire risk both within and outside city limits. Prescriptions consider a wide range of forest values including but not limited maintenance of forest health, protection of wildlife habitat, recreation, fisheries and water quality. Fuel management has been focused on those areas impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle and where fuel loading is high in close proximity to homes and neighbourhoods, public facilities such as schools, and municipal infrastructure. Deciduous trees such as aspen and birch are the desired retention trees. Success in reducing the overall fire hazard rating of a particular area can be measured in the reduction of density of fire fuels, and the conversion of the stand to a mixed deciduous/conifer stand.
What can you do to protect your home?
If your home or property is adjacent to greenbelt areas, or covers a large area, then your property may be at a higher risk of interface fire. Download a copy of the Home Owner’s Fire Smart Manual to learn about ways to reduce the risk to your property. For an informal self-assessment, visit FireSmart.
Updated Wildfire Hazard Assessment and Current Status of Fuel Treatments
On June 15, 2009 Council received a presentation and update on B.A. Blackwell and Associates’ report on “City of Prince George Landscape Scale Fire Behaviour Modelling” as well as an update on the current status of fire fuel treatments and Mountain Pine Beetle tree removal program. The full Report, presentation and update Map is provided below.