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City pleased with ongoing fuel reduction south of Cranbrook

Partnering with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRORD), the City of Cranbrook said additional work will soon begin to reduce fuel loads on the southern boundary of the community.

The work is taking place through B.C.’s Wildfire Risk Reduction Program. Spending several years pushing the B.C. Government for additional measures to protect rural communities from the threat of wildfire, the City said they are pleased with the amount of work and progress to date.

“We have been working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for 4 years,” said Lee Pratt, Mayor of Cranbrook. “I would personally like to thank the local MFLNRORD office and personnel as well as Minister Doug Donaldson in Victoria, for all the support they have given us. With this project, the citizens of Cranbrook can feel much better knowing our community is a lot safer from wildfire than it was in previous years.”

Trying to mitigate wildfire risks, the City of Cranbrook worked alongside the B.C. Government, the public, the Ktunaxa Nation Council, ʔaq’am, and licensees to develop an action plan.

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“As Cranbrook is surrounded by dense forests, it is critical that we reduce the chances of a crown fire (a fire that burns the canopy) reaching our city,” said the City of Cranbrook. “Our reality is that with prevailing south-westerly winds, a crown fire coming from the south has the potential to spread quickly, threaten critical infrastructure and force us to undertake an evacuation of the City, which is a scenario we wish to avoid.”

The City noted that addressing risks from dense forest fuels around the community is complex, due to overlapping land use issues on private and public lands, as well as varying tenure holders on those land.

“Simply put, we have a fuel problem in B.C. and this important work is aimed directly at addressing that problem,” said Scott Driver, Director of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services. “With wildfire seasons getting longer and more severe, the activities scheduled on our southern boundary increase the likelihood that a wildfire be contained by firefighting efforts, and that a community-wide evacuation can be minimized. We have narrowly dodged that reality a number of times in recent years and are extremely pleased with the progress being made on our Southern border with respect to crown fuels.”

Since conversations, several adjustments and accommodations have been made to fuel reduction plans to account for recreational users and range holders. The City said risk reduction treatments will continue to provide a forested landscape for the public, but a less dense forest to ensure wildfire risks on the community are minimized.

“In this respect, the City is extremely pleased that the province and its staff have engaged in finding workable solutions in the Cranbrook area, that improve our situation regarding the wildfire threat to our Southern boundary,” concluded the City.

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