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Fighting fire in the Okanagan with flame, cattle and logging

Click to play video 'Fighting fire with cattle, flame and logging' Fighting fire with cattle, flame and logging
Fighting fire with cattle, flame and logging – Mar 21, 2019

They’re logging in East Kelowna, but the government says don’t be alarmed.

It’s all part of a plan to prevent another recurrence of the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park fire that destroyed more than 200 homes.

Those in the forestry business will tell you the reason why our forests are so vulnerable to wildfire is because of density — there are too many trees and they’re all bunched together.

WATCH BELOW (Aired Oct. 16, 2018) Forestry experts call for more controlled burning in BC to reduce risk of wildfire

Click to play video 'Forestry experts call for more controlled burning in BC to reduce risk of wildfire' Forestry experts call for more controlled burning in BC to reduce risk of wildfire
Forestry experts call for more controlled burning in BC to reduce risk of wildfire – Oct 16, 2018

“The common agreement is that due to years of fire suppression and not logging, these stems had the chance to grow into a very unnatural, thick stand,” said Julius Huhs of the Okanagan-Shuswap Natural Resources District.

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Along with logging, the government has another tool in its arsenal. It has set aside $10 million for prescribed burns set to begin next year.

That will mean smoke, something Okanagan residents are all too familiar with after two straight smoke filled summers. But the B.C. Minister of Forests says prescribed burns are a better option than out-of-control wildfires.

READ MORE: 3 B.C. towns had some of the worst air quality in the world during last year’s wildfires: report

“With prescribed burns, we’re able to control the amount of smoke and when the smoke occurs. So it’s a matter of balance between experiencing the smoke and those people with respiratory issues in an uncontrolled state that we’ve seen in the last two years,” said Forest Minister Doug Donaldson. “That’s been incredibly difficult for those people, and being able to plan around when that smoke happens and that’s what prescribed burning can do.”

The cut-block off June Springs Road consist of about 50 hectares. The government wants to thin another 1,000 hectares over the next three years.

WATCH BELOW (Aired Feb. 20, 2019): More money in B.C. budget for wildfire response as natural disaster costs soar

Click to play video 'More money in B.C. budget for wildfire response as natural disaster costs soar' More money in B.C. budget for wildfire response as natural disaster costs soar
More money in B.C. budget for wildfire response as natural disaster costs soar – Feb 20, 2019

And you might be surprised to learn that the government is also turning to cattle to help prevent wildfires. It says cattle ranges will be expanded because cows eat and trample potential fuel on the forests floor.

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“We will have cows on a short rotation grazing schedule to come in, nip on the grass, keep the ground fuels low. At the same time, cows walk around, they trample things,” said Huhs.

“So should there be new fuel or debris, like falling dead branches; cows will walk on those and basically eliminate the risk of wildfire.”

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