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Crews working to mitigate impact of future B.C. wildfires

Last Updated Aug 28, 2018 at 7:22 am PDT

FILE: The Shovel Lake wildfire (Courtesy: BC Wildfire Service)

Crews have been going into forests, pulling out things like old, dead wood

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Work has already begun on making future wildfire seasons less than severe than this one.

In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, crews have been going into forests and pulling out things that could fuel fires.

The program was started over a decade ago. Aimee Watson, an electoral area director in the regional district, says they go into wooded areas near communities and take out things like old, dead wood.

“In local government for us, this is the most proactive thing we can do to reduce the risk to the communities that live in our forested regions. I think it’s essential.”

But she believes more needs to be done to really make an impact. Watson hopes more help will come.

“We’re coming up to the UBCM, the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention… A lot of the funding we get is through UBCM, so we’re looking forward to seeing what new funding will be announced.”

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Watson says we could also plant different types of trees after we log — ones that can better resist a fire.

This wildfire season is the second-worst on record in B.C., after the 2017 season.

A forestry expert says one problem is in the past we tried to suppress all fires that started.

“In British Columbia, we’ve had a 92 per cent success rate over many decades,” Lori Daniels with UBC told “The Big Story” podcast this week.

“What that has meant — the unintended consequence — is that by putting out those fires, we’ve made large areas of our landscapes, literally millions of hectares, are consistent. They’re all mature forests. They all have similar vegetation, types and structures. So, now when fires burn… there are no natural fuel breaks on the landscape.”

RELATED: A quarter of B.C.’s wildfires this year caused by people

She says oftentimes, communities should be cutting and thinning forests, in order to remove small trees that act as ladders for fire to climb from the ground to the tree canopy.

 – With files from Jordan Heath-Rawlings