Sicamous sees a dual purpose to its $1-million fuel mitigation plan.
The Shuswap community is hoping to protect their town from wildfires while at the same time developing an alternative energy source.
The town is in the midst of densely forested hills, meaning a lightning strike in the backcountry could quickly become a significant fire, exposing homes to flame.
So the Shuswap community is eager to use a $1-million grant to help thin out the forest to the southeast of town.
As part of the project, the district hopes to remove ground fuels that allow fires to get up into the canopy where, fire chief Brett Ogino explains, the flames can become “very fast-moving and very difficult to control.
“If we can keep it to the ground, create some space, not only can the fire fighters access it better but when they do the retardant drops, it actually hits the ground and is more effective,” explained Ogino.
Meanwhile, the idea is to tie the fuel mitigation project into plans for a biofuel heating system in the community, similar to one that already exists in nearby Enderby.
The plan is that fiber removed from the forest in the name of wildfire prevention will be chipped and combusted to heat businesses or public buildings in Sicamous.
However, it will likely take one to two years of planning before the fuel mitigation work gets underway. The district says the extensive preparations are to prevent problems such as landslides.
Ultimately, Sicamous hopes to do similar fuel mitigation projects on other areas of the town’s periphery.