A fuel break to decrease the opportunity for wildfire behaviour has been created around Mount Baldy Resort. (Contributed)

Baldy Mountain Resort establishes fuel break to protect from future wildfires

The project was made possible thanks to funding from the FESBC

Thanks to funding provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC), a much-needed fuel break was added to the area of the Baldy Mountain Resort in order to protect from future wildfire risks.

According to a release, the last wildfire to sweep through the area did so in the 1930s, but since then dense fire-prone trees have grown back. The FESBC provided $279,000 to the resort in order to remove surface fuel and increase the distance between tree crowns to protect the surrounding area, a project supported by the provincial government’s Mountain Resort Branch.

“As a high-risk area, prone to large-scale catastrophic wildfire, we undertook this project to not only protect the resort, and community of over 100 cabins, but an area of abundant natural beauty,” said Andy Foster of Baldy Mountain Resort in the release. “While the main aim was to build a fuel break, it was also vital to the resort to have minimal impact on the aesthetics of the mountain so the resort can be enjoyed for years to come.”

The fuel break forms a horseshoe shape around the resort, and due to the mitigation work if a wildfire were to enter it, it will lower the fire’s intensity. The release explains that the goal was to thin trees in a patchy distribution to form islands of trees and avoid clearcutting the area, which spanned 90 hectares on the southern perimeter of the resort.

“FESBC is delighted to participate with Baldy Mountain Resort in reducing wildfire risk to their citizens, homes, and infrastructure such as emergency escape routes, water availability, and communication infrastructure,” said FESBC operations manager Dave Conly, RPF, in the release. “FESBC applauds Mount Baldy for recognizing the risk of wildfire and taking action to reduce that risk.”

READ MORE: Wildfire mitigation work helps restore sheep habitat in South Okanagan

The clearance work was carried out by Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd., Lusted Logging and Mike Closs Logging, while the surface fuel clean-up was completed by W.G. Shaw and Sons Ltd. and Venholm Holdings Ltd., in partnership with the Osoyoos Indian Band.

“There was plenty of public support from the local residents and they, and the resort, will realize the biggest benefits with regards to community protection and protection of the resort and its recreational values,” said John Davies, RPF, with Davies Wildfire Management in the release.

“It was a dense stand of pine, spruce and balsam that consisted of contiguous vertical and horizontal heavy fuel right into the resort and community,” said Davies. “The landscape-level fuel break provides an area of reduced fuel loading which will now only support low fire behaviour. It will provide protection to the community, the resort and its values while acting as a safe location from which wildfire professionals can anchor fire suppression tactics in the face of an approaching wildfire.”

READ MORE: Funds fight fires in North Okanagan

“FESBC was pleased to see the excellent progress made by Baldy Mountain Resort in moving forward on the next phases of the wildfire risk reduction projects,” said Conly. “Work involved local contractors and members of the Osoyoos Indian Band collecting and piling forest debris/woody fuels and reducing this fuel to levels that minimize the severity of wildfire. The resort delivered the project and has come in under budget so far—which is excellent.”

Those wishing to see the fuel break firsthand are invited to attend the Baldy Mountain Resort’s open house, which will take place in late February 2020.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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