Rainbow Neighbourhood Fuel Thinning Project 2019 - 2020
The next project scheduled for 2019 - 2020 is to thin around the Rainbow neighbourhood in the areas outlined on the map. The activities associated with this work will likely include:
- Understorey thinning and bucking coniferous tree species;
- Thinning coniferous trees and dead lodgepole pine to separate tree crowns and reduce future fuel loading;
- Pile burning or chipping to reduce surface fuel and dispose of debris;
- Providing a portion of the wood waste to the Callaghan composter to create its soil amendment product;
- Removing flammable understory vegetation, and
- Pruning retained trees.
The RMOW is partnering with the Cheakamus Community Forest to do the work, and is coordinating with WORCA regarding the trails in the area.
Fuel Thinning in Whistler
Whistler is surrounded by forest and as a result is at risk for wildfires.
Fuel reduction is one component of Whistler’s Wildfire Protection Strategy.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler has been conducting fuel thinning projects on Crown and municipal lands since 2004 to reduce the risk of wildfire to our community. The primary goal of fuel thinning is to reduce forest fuel loads within the wildland-urban interface to reduce the ability of fire to spread from the forest into the community and vice versa, and to make wildfires easier to fight. Fuel thinning will be discontinued when the fire hazard goes to high or extreme and will resume when the fire hazard is lower.
Sometimes projects need to burn some of the wood debris. There is no need to report smoke from fuel thinning projects.
Fuel thinning process and goals
Fuel thinning focuses on leaving mature and deciduous trees, while removing ground brush and debris, pruning lower branches, and removing tight second growth trees. This is accomplished 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;
- Reduce fine woody surface debris, while retaining larger coarse woody debris for habitat and soil productivity;
- Prunning 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.
In addition to reducing forest fuel loads, secondary objectives of fuel thinning projects are to protect critical infrastructure and facilities in Whistler, restore open forest conditions and demonstrate the principles and practices of the FireSmart program.
The RMOW completed a study in 2012 to identify where landscape level fuel breaks should be created along forest service roads around Whistler. The focus is on reducing tree densities in tight second growth, rather than removing old growth trees although sometimes that is necessary. Thinning stands within 100 - 200 m of each side of the road reduces the fuel available to feed fire growth and creates safer, defensible areas for firefighting crews to work in.
With the exception of the Cheakamus Lake Road project, fuel thinning projects are completed for 2018. What was accomplished?
- Whistler Cemetery and Alpine Meadows – 21.7 hectares
- Wedge – roadside thinning and clean up
- Callaghan Forest Service Road – 22 hectares
- Kadenwood Road – 50% of 24 hectares complete. Work will resume in spring 2019.
- Cheakamus Lake road – Fuel thinning began late November 2018 and will continue, weather permitting, through spring 2019.
The RMOW received funding for several fuel thinning projects from the Union of BC Municipalities Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative to supplement the municipality’s budget to carry out the work. The RMOW is also partnering with the Cheakamus Community Forest on projects within its tenure area and substantial funding is provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC.
Cheakamus Lake fuel treatmentThe Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) began to thin a total of 113 ha along either side of Cheakamus Lake Road this year.
- The goal is to thin 50 ha in the central portion of the road and work toward the Cheakamus Lake trail parking lot over winter 2018. The section closest to the highway is scheduled for late spring and/or autumn 2019.
- The RMOW and CCF are working with WORCA to ensure trails in the area are taken into consideration, and with BC Parks to reduce disruption to the Cheakamus Lake Trail parking lot.
- The road will need to be closed periodically to allow for efficient and safe working conditions. Obey all signs and workers.
- Find details on the Cheakamus Lake Fuel Treatment Map.