March 26, 2018  PHOTO : In September 2017, the ʔaq̓am community experienced a wildfire. It will now be reducing fuel in high-risk areas with support from a wildfire mitigation grant from Columbia Basin Trust.




Twenty communities focus on mitigating wildfire with over $800,000 from Columbia Basin Trust

(Columbia Basin) – Wildfire can rapidly destroy homes, communities and lives. To brace against this danger—now becoming more of a risk than ever because of a hotter, drier climate—20 communities are implementing 28 projects that will help them prevent or brace themselves against wildfire. These projects are being supported by $822,406 from Columbia Basin Trust.

“Basin communities are part of forested landscapes, which gives us beautiful scenery and rich ecological values but also hazards to communities such as wildfire,” said Tim Hicks, Columbia Basin Trust Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits. “Communities are well aware of this risk and came to us for help to both prepare for the possibility of these dangerous situations and to reduce their likelihood. This work aligns with our priority to support community resilience in a changing climate.”

With support from the Trust’s Community Development Program, local governments and First Nation communities are implementing projects focused on educating residents about how they can reduce wildfire risks on their properties, managing wildfire fuels, protecting critical community infrastructure and developing emergency response and evacuation plans. The Trust will continue to accept applications from local governments and First Nations until June 30, 2018. To see the full list of projects funded, visit<>.

Here are a few of the current projects:

Close Call
The First Nation community of ʔaq̓am is well aware of the need to prepare for wildfire. “In September 2017, the ʔaq̓am community experienced a 400-hectare wildfire that threatened property and resulted in the evacuation of 36 on-reserve homes,” said Julie Couse, Director of Lands and Natural Resources. “Approximately 110 individuals were displaced for a period of three days. The Wildfire Mitigation Grant will allow us to treat the highest-priority sites to protect our collective ʔaq̓amnik citizens.”

The community will conduct activities like tree felling, pruning and thinning to reduce fuel for wildfires on 63.4 hectares of high-risk areas, where wildfire may pose threats to human safety, structures, critical infrastructure or cultural heritage sites. It will also do Home Ignition Zone assessments on all on-reserve structures, plus do FireSmart activities with the goal of becoming a designated FireSmart-certified community.

Bring on the Students
The City of Castlegar is taking a collaborative approach to reducing the risk of wildfire within the community by working with students from Selkirk College’s Forestry Technology program. Students will conduct FireSmart assessments for private property owners, plus help reduce wildfire fuels on high-risk municipal lands by creating prescriptions and carrying out fuel reduction activities.

Through these efforts, “members of the public will learn the benefits of fire smarting their private properties,” said Lawrence Chernoff, Mayor of Castlegar. “By protecting private assets and the assets of the community, this project will reduce the risk of mass disasters and increase public safety.”

Creating a Good Example
If you want people to do something, show them how it’s done. That’s one of the City of Fernie’s approaches to reducing the risk of wildfire. It will create a FireSmart demonstration forest, in which residents will work alongside professionals to thin trees and reduce fuels for wildfires.

“This public participation approach will transfer wildfire risk mitigation awareness, knowledge and skills by showing and involving stakeholders, not just telling them,” said Ted Ruiter, Fire Chief and Director of Fire and Emergency Services. “It will encourage them to use skills gained in building the site to reducing vegetation and fuel hazards near their own homes and neighbourhoods, in ways that retain an attractive forest while respecting wildlife and other habitat requirements.”

Educating and Supporting the Public
From setting up information booths, to doing demonstrations, to speaking to students and recreation groups, the City of Revelstoke will be taking a multi-layered approach to educating the public about how to become FireSmart. The City will also help residents assess their properties and suggest debris removal methods, plus will establish clear guidelines for developers building in areas adjacent to wildlands.

“Since 2006, the City has had wildfire protection activities under way, particularly targeting municipal properties and community infrastructure,” said Dwayne Voykin, Emergency Program Coordinator. “The focus is now on continuing to educate the community about local wildfire risks, especially from human ignitions, helping private property owners reduce their risks of wildfire damage and giving developers clear requirements for new builds.”

The wildfire mitigation grants are just one of the ways the Trust is helping communities adapt to climate change. Learn more at<>.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit<> or call 1.800.505.8998.

Emily Gilmar
Columbia Basin Trust

Do You Want a More Open Government?

See two links below: One to an article from TheTyee, and the second a link to the BC Government page regarding information access and privacy:

CCC update March 25

March 25, 2018

For the past twelve months Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd (CCC) has been receiving comments from the Argenta-Johnsons Landing (AJL) community expressing a resounding concern that the geological landform local to the GAR Ck slide is consistent across the Purcell Mountains, which includes the AJL face unit and drainages.  The community is concerned that any forest development will exacerbate the possibility of initiating a landslide(s) similar to the magnitude of the GAR Ck slide that would result in similar devastation to property and loss of life.  CCC acknowledges that, if the geological landform was consistent across the AJL face, there is reason to be very concerned about the community’s safety.

However; as a result of Chris Perdue’s work – field work, reviewing geological, terrain and LiDAR maps, reading terrain reports of the AJL area – CCC and Chris contend that the geological landform that is around the GAR Ck slide is specific to the slide area, that the specific landform was a significant contributing factor to the slide, and this specific landform is not consistent across the Purcell Mountain Range, which includes the AJL face unit.

Cooper Creek Cedar felt it very important to address this concern and subsequently invited a group of professional terrain specialists, Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) and the RDCK to meet to discuss whether the geological landform local to the GAR Ck slide is, in fact, consistent across the AJL face unit. The meeting was held March 13, 2018, and was attended by:

  • Tara DeCourcy, RPF, District Manager, Selkirk Forest District
  • Sarah Crookshanks, M.Sc., P.Geo., Research Geomorphologist, MFLNRO
  • Peter Jordan, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., P.Geo., terrain specialist advisor to groups in AJL community
  • Greg Utzig, M.Sc., P.Ag.
  • Chris Perdue, P.Geo., Eng.L., professional geotechnical consultant for CCC
  • John Cathro, RPF, Alternate Director Area D
  • Bill Kestell, RPF, Woodland Manager, CCC
  • Craig Upper, President, CCC

(Note: the following summary of the meeting is a collaboration of the participants, predominating with input/general agreement among the four professional geotechs.)

Summarizing the meeting, there was a general consensus among the technical experts, not including the RDCK representative, that there are some unique geological features existent in the GAR Ck area that contributed to the GAR Ck slide. Those features are not present to the north across the AJL face unit/forest development area. Therefore the likelihood that a similar landslide of the magnitude of the GAR Ck slide will occur elsewhere on the AJL face unit/forest development area is significantly less than it is in the GAR Ck area. It should also be noted, it was agreed that road construction and forest development did not contribute in any way to the GAR Ck slide.

The discussion did expand to terrain stability concerns within the AJL area north of the GAR Ck slide, including the presence/concerns of potential KARST topography and general terrain instability common to the mountainous terrain within the north Kootenay Lake area. All the professionals and CCC acknowledged that all future forest development in the AJL forest development area needs to include thorough terrain stability field assessments and review of past reports and assessments. CCC clearly stated that detailed terrain stability field assessments will be carried out and that all subsequent reports will be provided to MFLNRO, Jordan & Utzig, RDCK and the community for peer reviews.

Cooper Creek Cedar will be starting to conduct on-the-ground field work in the AJL development area this season. Work will begin once the area is relatively snow free to allow access. CCC expects to begin field work as early as April/May – weather and resources dependent. The following is a proposed work schedule:

  • reconnaissance (recci) work of the area to determine harvesting & road construction possibilities. There is no definite time line for this part of the process. This process requires a significant amount of ground proofing. Cutblock and road location ribbons will be hung to identify potential development areas. These blocks/roads are not final designs at this time.
  • CCC will provide regular development maps as work progresses. CCC will also continue to encourage community engagement during this process once development areas have been identified. It is a good time for the community to field review this development work with CCC.
  • CCC expects to have identified potential cutting permit development blocks and roads by August 2018. Once there has been a potential CP developed, specific field assessments will be started – Visual Impact Assessments (Visual Impact Simulations), Terrain Stability Field Assessments (TSFA), Ungulate Winter Range, Wildlife Assessments (wildlife assessments are ongoing by a Wildlife Biologist to look at the ungulate winter range while there is snow on the ground) and other assessments as required. These assessments will be made available to the community for their review. As well, CCC has agreed to submit all assessments to the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations and the RDCK for peer review.
  • During the process of assessment completion, final CP/RP development will continue, including development of Site Plans (SP). Again there is no timeline with this process. CCC will not submit application for a Cutting Permit or Road Permit until the assessments are completed and time has been allowed for peer reviews, and the SPs completed.
  • The AJL development area is essentially defined by definite creeks. CCC will complete a Total Chance Plan on each face unit between the defined creeks. CCC will begin forest development in the Salisbury Ck area.
  • CCC will target submitting a CP/RP application for September/October 2018. But this is a “loose” date that is dependent on numerous unknown issues that may arise, including completing a thorough communication process with the community.
  • Generally, CPs/RPs takes approximately 30 days for MFLNRO approval following permit submission, but very dependent on a number of issues. However, CCC expects many of the “issues” will be addressed via peer reviews of assessments and community/CCC communication prior to CP/RP submission. Harvesting and/or road building can occur once the permits are approved.

CCC encourages the AJL community to engage with CCC throughout CCC’s forest development. Comments can be submitted to:

Submitted by:

Bill Kestell, RPF

Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd

Woodlands Manager