December 11, 2018 8:09 pm
Updated: December 11, 2018 8:44 pm

Work underway near Penticton to thwart wildfire threat

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Wildfire management is becoming increasingly important as 2018 was the worst B.C. wildfire season in terms of land burned, with 1.3 million hectares scorched and $350 million spent on fighting it.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is teaming up with the Penticton Indian Band, Wild Sheep Society of B.C., B.C. Wildfire Service and Davies Wildfire Management to carry out the Ellis landscape level fuel break in the Carmi area near Penticton.

Crews are reducing the density of timber by thinning out the trees and burning ground fuels through prescribed burns next spring.

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There are several benefits, according to forest specialist John Davies.

“One is removes the ladder fuels in a stand, so ladder fuels are what helps a fire move from the ground up to the crown. As far as wildlife value, it improves sight lines for predator-prey,” he said.

The 150-hectare fuel-removal project is funded through a provincial grant and the Wild Sheep Society of B.C.

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Representatives from several agencies gathered at the site on Tuesday to get a firsthand look at the work underway.

The project is funded through a provincial grant and the Wild Sheep Society of B.C.

The 150-hectare project is the largest Davies Wildfire Management has carried out in the Okanagan Valley and could help save the town below from potential wildfire threat.

“It would act as an impediment to spread, something coming either down the valley or out of the canyon,” Davies said.

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“Very challenging fire behaviour in this area in the middle of summer so a big part of this is to give crews a chance,” said Jon Finlay with the B.C. Wildfire Service. “Reduce the forest fuels that contribute to fire behaviour.”

The project is supported by the Penticton Indian Band. Chief Chad Eneas said the forest management strategy would also benefit wildlife in the area by increasing the underlying layer of vegetation during the winter.

“It is going to restore the health of the land, our food systems, our social institutions,” he said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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