The City of Rossland will spend more than a quarter of a million dollars on fire-proofing the community this year.
It’s one of several projects announced by the Columbia Basin Trust last week to help Kootenay communities reduce fire risks.
“While the ground remains snowy, communities throughout the Columbia Basin are thinking ahead to how they can reduce the risks of wildfires,” a statement from the Trust says. “Several projects will be helping to keep people and places safer with over $1 million from Columbia Basin Trust’s community wildfire program.”
The City of Rossland received $255,000 to limb and thin trees to reduce the amount of wildfire fuel in 12.5 hectares near the community. Instead of burning or chipping the woody debris, however, workers will create “hugels” to improve the overall health of the forest.
This means the debris will be piled into shallow excavated or natural depressions and then covered with soil, seeds and mulch.
“Hugels build soil, reduce erosion, capture moisture, improve water retention, cycle slow‐release nutrients, retain carbon and create habitat for native vegetation and underground shelter for wildlife, plus will increase the aesthetics and safety of our local trail system,” explained Andrew Bennett, project lead.
“They’re not constrained by the limited season for burn piles, and should cost about the same. Once completed, we will produce replicable templates, such as a how‐to‐hugel guide and a slideshow of lessons learned, so the methods can be used elsewhere in the Basin and B.C.”
“Anyone who’s been in the region in the past few years has witnessed how wildfires can choke the air and put communities in danger,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust president and chief executive officer.
“With realities of climate change, these risks are increasing, and communities are prioritizing reducing the impacts of wildfires in the Basin.”
The Trust also provides advice to communities through a wildfire advisor.
These projects are in addition to the more than $1.5 million the Trust has already provided since 2012 to help communities prepare for and reduce the risks of wildfires.