Funding approved by the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) facilitated the protection of Baldy Mountain Resort, the community, and the resort’s future sub-divisions with a 350-metre-wide fuel break. The last wildfire moved through the area in the 1930s. Since that time, a stand of dense fire-prone trees has grown back. The over $279,000 in funding from FESBC was critical in protecting the community from future wildfires.
“As a high-risk area, prone to large-scale catastrophic wildfire, we undertook this project to not only protect the resort, and community of over 100 cabins, but an area of abundant natural beauty,” said Andy Foster of Baldy Mountain Resort. “While the main aim was to build a fuel break, it was also vital to the resort to have minimal impact on the aesthetics of the mountain so the resort can be enjoyed for years to come.”
The fuel break is in a horseshoe-shaped band around the resort and was created by increasing spacing between tree crowns and decreasing surface fuel loading on the forest floor, so if or when a fire enters the fuel break, it’s lower in intensity. The goal was to thin trees in a patchy distribution to form islands of trees and avoid clearcutting the area, a project fully supported by the provincial government’s Mountain Resorts Branch.
“FESBC is delighted to participate with Baldy Mountain Resort in reducing wildfire risk to their citizens, homes, and infrastructure such as emergency escape routes, water availability, and communication infrastructure,” said FESBC Operations Manager Dave Conly, RPF. “FESBC applauds Mount Baldy for recognizing the risk of wildfire and taking action to reduce that risk.”
The harvesting work covered 90 hectares on the southern perimeter of the resort and was completed by Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd., Lusted Logging, and Mike Closs Logging. Surface fuel clean up was completed by W.G. Shaw and Sons Ltd., and Venholm Holdings Ltd., in partnership with the Osoyoos Indian Band.
“There was plenty of public support from the local residents and they, and the resort, will realize the biggest benefits with regards to community protection and protection of the resort and its recreational values,” said John Davies, RPF, Davies Wildfire Management.
“It was a dense stand of pine, spruce, and balsam that consisted of contiguous vertical and horizontal heavy fuel right into the resort and community,” said Davies. “The landscape-level fuel break provides an area of reduced fuel loading which will now only support low fire behaviour. It will provide protection to the community, the resort and its values while acting as a safe location from which wildfire professionals can anchor fire suppression tactics in the face of an approaching wildfire.”
“FESBC was pleased to see the excellent progress made by Baldy Mountain Resort in moving forward on the next phases of the wildfire risk reduction projects,” said Conly. “Work involved local contractors and members of the Osoyoos Indian Band collecting and piling forest debris/woody fuels and reducing this fuel to levels that minimize the severity of wildfire. The resort delivered the project and has come in under budget so far—which is excellent.”
The resort intends to host a community open house and tour of the project in late February 2020 so that residents, project partners, and media can all get a look at the project and learn more about the work completed to protect the resort.