The City of Vernon is taking the next steps in its FireSmart™ program plans to help manage fuels in the wildland urban interface (WUI) near Kokanee Road and Sunset Properties.
Starting Monday, November 29, fuel management work will be taking place on portions of City-owned land south of Kokanee Road, which will include mechanical thinning of trees and vegetation, and small pile burning to address the organic materials.
“Wildland fuel management is a critical practice to help protect people, homes, infrastructure and the environment,” said Fire Chief David Lind. “After many years of human influence and fire suppression activity, the growth and establishment of wildland fuels across North America – not just the North Okanagan – has drastically changed. Across the country, many forests have become overgrown and are in an unhealthy state.”
“This past summer, we experienced the direct impact of this forest overgrowth, paired with sustained drought conditions and intense fire activity. This summer was a critical example of why we must stay consistent with our FireSmart efforts,” said Chief Lind.
Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) is working with qualified contractors to conduct the fuel management work, which will help decrease the risk of wildfire activity in the area. Crew members will be using chainsaws and other equipment to thin and cut material, which will then be piled and burned during and after the initial fuel mitigation project. Residents can expect to see smoke in the area from this pile burning.
“The contractors doing this work have been part of other City FireSmart projects and will only use pile burning in accordance with strict environmental and site conditions,” said Deputy Chief Alan Hofsink. “The work is low risk and involves a great amount of planning to achieve the project objectives in a safe and controlled environment.”
This project is part of the City’s ongoing FireSmart commitment, which includes providing residents and neighbourhoods with information regarding how they can implement FireSmart practices around their own homes.
Earlier this year, residents from Sunset Properties hosted an educational session and community cleanup event for neighbours to learn about FireSmart and help remove fire fuels from their area.
“Having citizens involved in this process is critical,” said DC Hofsink. “It really does take an all-hands-on-deck approach to implement FireSmart principles across the community. This helps make Vernon more resilient to the impacts of wildfire, while also helping to restore the local ecosystem. We’re excited to see more people get involved and encourage everyone to learn what they can do to keep themselves and each other safe.”
Vernon Fire Rescue will also be providing more information about upcoming fuel management projects across the City and how residents can get involved in FireSmart community initiatives.
Above: Residents from the Sunset Properties neighbourhood came together in May 2021 to participate in a Community Wildfire Preparedness Day and neighbourhood cleanup event.