Work to reduce the risk of future wildfires is set to begin along the northside of Williams Lake’s Airport Road in an area that covers about 41 hectares, the Cariboo Fire Centre noted in a news release.
Crews will work to reduce the amount of fuel available to burn in the event of a wildfire in the area.
Risk reduction activities may include: removing hazardous trees and flammable shrubs; retention of broad leaf species; reducing woody debris and other fuels on the forest floor by piling and burning or chipping and grinding the material for off-site use; thinning forested areas by cutting smaller trees and some mature trees; removing some of the dead standing trees; and pruning low-hanging tree branches to help prevent fire from moving into tree tops.
Wildfire risk reduction activities will take place east of Highway 97 near the airport, behind Hillside Road.
While work is underway, trails in the area will be closed on days when contractors are working nearby. Signage and roadblocks will be placed on the trails during these times and the project will not encroach on private land.
In addition to making it easier for firefighters to defend the community against future wildfires, these projects improve the long-term health and resiliency of forests and enhance habitat for mule deer and other wildlife.
Other important factors, such as recreational use, riparian areas and cultural values, were considered when planning these projects.
The treatment area will be maintained through prescribed fire in future years.
About 1,200 hectares of land in and around Williams Lake is slated for treatment over the next two years. Work will take place in areas where urban development and forests meets, with priority given to areas close to residences or critical infrastructure, or where steep slopes, weather patterns or fuel hazards could impact fire behaviour.
Many of these locations were identified as treatment priorities in the Williams Lake and Area Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which was developed by multiple agencies, communities and First Nations. Preliminary field work and planning for these projects began in 2019.
Treatments will begin in additional areas of the community throughout 2021.
To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit www.bcwildfire.ca.