The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is continuing its wildfire management program with a fuel thinning project on 8.8 hectares above the Brio subdivision starting on May 2. The work will continue until the fire hazard rating becomes extreme, and it will resume in the fall when the fire hazard drops.
“Fuel thinning” involves removal of ground brush and debris, as well as pruning branches and removing specific trees to reduce the risk of wildfire. Fuel thinning treatments are isolated to small, defined areas, and are light-touch on the land base leaving an open, park-like feel to the forest.
This work is intended to reduce forest fuel loads identified in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) within the wildland urban interface of Whistler to reduce the risk of wildfire in the community. Funds for this project were authorized through the Union of BC Municipalities Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative in 2015 to supplement the municipality’s $388,000 budget to carry out the work.
In addition to reducing forest fuel loads, secondary objectives of the project are to:
- Protect critical infrastructure and facilities in Whistler
- Restore open forest conditions
- Demonstrate the principles and practices of FireSmart
Access will be mainly from the Whistler Blackcomb road system, but a right of way on Panorama Ridge will be upgraded sufficiently to permit access onto the site with an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The debris will be removed from the site or chipped in place. No burning will take place for this project.
Whistler’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan
The municipality is committed to reducing the risk of wildfire in Whistler. In 2005 and 2011, the RMOW completed, then updated, a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), which identified high priority forests that should be thinned to reduce the fuel hazard. Over the past few years, the RMOW has conducted fuel thinning projects in various locations such as Lost Lake Park, above Horstman Estates, Kadenwood and Millar’s Pond.
This project will reduce the ability of fire to spread from the forest into the community and vice versa, while maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem. This is done by:
- Reducing the number of trees in the stand, focusing on removal of small diameter trees and retaining fire resistant species such as Douglas-fir and deciduous trees;
- Reducing fine woody surface debris while retaining larger coarse woody debris for habitat and soil productivity;
- Pruning trees to reduce ladder fuels between the ground and the forest crown; and
- Removing dangerous trees to protect workers while maintaining high value wildlife trees where possible.
Make your property FireSmart
Property owners are reminded to take steps to protect their properties against wildfire and make their properties FireSmart by:
- Scheduling a free FireSmart home and site hazard assessment with Whistler Fire Rescue Services. Email firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail) or phone 604-935-8260.
- Following guidelines in the Homeowners FireSmart Manual to reduce, replace or remove wildfire risks by modifying and maintaining your home and reducing fuel loads in your yard.
- Dropping off yard waste at one of the RMOW’s free yard waste drop-off weekends. Upcoming dates are April 15 to 17, May 27 to 29, and July 29 to August 1.
- Applying for a free permit to burn garden debris from April 15 to May 1.
This year the RMOW will be introducing neighbourhood bins for yard waste drop-off. Details will be available soon at whistler.ca/fire.