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Wildfire Mitigation Project Completed for Section of Blue Nose Mountain

Posted Friday, December 18, 2020

If a significant wildfire were to occur in the Duteau Creek Community Watershed, there would be a high potential for long-term economic, water quality, and water quantity impacts that would affect all Greater Vernon Water customers. To reduce these risks, the RDNO, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), and contractors cleaned up surface fuels, fell high-risk trees, and burned slash piles on a section of the forest on Blue Nose Mountain, in Electoral Area “D”. The project was funded by a grant from FESBC, and is part of a more extensive watershed wildfire mitigation program being conducted by multiple local governments to protect their water sources from wildfire.

“Controlled burning during the shoulder season can be an important component of wildfire mitigation. By burning woody fuel before a wildfire happens during drought conditions, we can reduce the probability of ignition and also greatly reduce the severity of a wildfire should one get started. We burn a little bit now when it is safe to do so, in order to hopefully avoid a massive fire later. We hope to provide better protection for communities and improve air quality overall” said Steve Kozuki, FESBC Executive Director.

The section that this project focused on was deemed high-risk since it is adjacent to a public road and recreational trail. The added vehicle and pedestrian traffic can lead to instances where a lit cigarette, a spark from an off-road recreation vehicle, or a human started campfire can spread rapidly towards the water source.

“The water that runs through your taps originates far from your home. The watershed is a network of water bodies that supply water downstream and is collected by our reservoirs. Our drinking water is affected by everything that happens on the land it travels through before it has to be treated and distributed to customers,” said Tricia Brett, Water Quality Manager, RDNO.

“We must protect the watershed from wildfires since it is our source of drinking water, and a devastating wildfire could mean long-term issues with water quality due to debris and ash filling our reservoirs.”

Through the FESBC funding, an assessment was completed this year that mapped out critical work needed to protect our water supply. Greater Vernon Water is continuing discussions with the Province and FESBC for continued funding on Wildfire Mitigation.