Unit crews from the Southeast Fire Centre returned to the Selkirk Heights area to burn the piles of debris from their fire mitigation efforts earlier this year.

Fire mitigation crews burn debris in Golden

The Southeast Fire Centre returned to Golden to burn the trees they had removed earlier in the year.

There was a bit of smoke in the air last week around Selkirk Heights when unit crews from the Southeast Fire Centre returned to Golden to burn the trees they had removed earlier in the year as part of the Wildfire Prevention Program.

The Wildfire Prevention Program is part of a multi-year plan dating back to 2010 and formally launched in the summer of 2012. The project goal is to protect Golden from wildfire spreading into the community by limiting the forest fuel load. This work, contributed by BC Forest Service personnel, will reduce local taxpayer project costs and 90 per cent of the remaining project funding will be provided by provincial government grants.

Crews were on site from Sept. 9 to Sept. 11 burning the debris. The planned combination of large scale debris removal, chipping and burning of debris was a method approved by the Union of BC Municipalities Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiatives and the Ministry of Forests Fuel Management Branch.

Coun. Keith Hern, however, was hoping they would reconsider using burning as a method of disposal after he says he received several complaints about the smoke.

“I think it’s a little hypocritical when we tell residents not to burn their garden waste, and we’re burning large piles of debris,” he said.

CAO Jon Wilsgard said the methods of disposal are chosen by the “experts” after the proper research has been conducted. In the past crews have used chipping methods to remove the debris, but had decided in this case burning was the way to go.

“It was a very short period of time,” said Mayor Christina Benty, explaining why the experts did not think that the project would have a significant impact on air quality.

Hern requested that in the future it would be made clear that hauling and chipping the debris would be preferred by the municipality.

Council also voted to apply for the Operational Fuel Treatment Grant to complete many of the prescriptions that were created years ago, and essentially build a large fire break across Mount 7.

The fire service has been doing much of the work for free, but Wilsgard recommended the municipality seek out the funding in case they can’t come next year.

“If in fact the forestry service decides to be wonderful to us again, then we’ll be able to return the funds,” he said.

Council voted in favour, with Coun. Hern opposed.

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