A well attended wildfire mitigation open house happened in Nelson yesterday.

Representatives from the BC Wildfire Service, City of Nelson fire department and Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) were there to chat with residents about reducing the risk of wildfire.

On a community level there’s a lot planned, including fuel management treatments for West Arm Provincial Arm.

Amanda Weber-Roy, with BC Parks says roughly 25 hectares will be treated off Svoboda Road this fall.

“The areas that we’re looking at for treatment will actually function as a fuel break, so that if a fire were to start in the community, it would give BC Wildfire Service a chance to slow the fire down or stop the fire before it reached the park, and vice versa, other way around. If a fire started up in the park, it would give BC Wildfire a chance to fight the fire before it headed down into the community,” said Weber-Roy.

It’s funded by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC and BC Parks, through their license plate program. A lot more work is needed though as BC Parks has identified over 400 hectares for treatment. Other treatments were carried out in 2009 and 2010, but the work is costly and Weber-Roy says projects will be completed as they find partners and funding.

It’s also the first time BC Parks has partnered with the regional district and City of Nelson, working together to help identify priority areas.

Another project that’s proposed for next year is a Selous Creek Fuel Break. Kalesnikoff Lumber has been partnering with the regional district on fuel management prescriptions and this would be the first treatment they complete.

“This is the first kind of big one that we’ve worked on with the RDCK. Now that more areas are seeing community wildfire protection plans completed, we’ll engaging with communities that have high priority areas around them looking to do similar things,” says Kalesnikoff’s Forest Development Manager Gerald Cordeiro.

It’s in the proposal stage right now and public engagement is just starting in earnest. It’s described as a landscape level fuel reduction treatment and currently covers 160 hectares. That includes forest near the Nelson and Salmo rail trail and the cemetery.

“At a landscape level this has been identified by the RDCK, the BC Wildfire Service and some independent experts as being a pretty high risk area,” adds Cordeiro.

Balance and compromise is required, according to Cordeiro. Wildfire protection needs to balanced with other values on the land. One way they’re looking at giving back to the community through the project is with an agro-forestry pilot project on two hectares adjacent to the trail.

Funding hasn’t yet been approved for the project, but Cordeiro expects they should hear from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC by next week. The types of logs harvested in this are aren’t usually desirable for the mill, but Cordeiro says anything they can bring in is still a gain.