Interface Fire

Forest fires have been a significant factor in the Kimberley Nature Park for many centuries. Fire ecologists have studied historic fire patterns and determined that the area has long been subject to a mixed fire regime. Sometimes fires would burn at relatively low intensity on the ground, killing small trees while sparing the mature stems. At other times, when significant quantities of dead wood had accumulated on the forest floor and the smaller trees had grown tall enough to provide “ladders” for fire to climb into the mature canopy, entire stands of trees would be consumed.

For the past 100 years or so, humans have been actively suppressing forest fires in the East Kootenay region. In the Kimberley Nature Park, this has resulted in the development of a more crowded and dense forest with increased levels of shading and decreased moisture availability for the understory. With continued fire suppression, over time the forests in the nature park have become significantly less natural. Additionally, mountain pine beetles have been killing lodgepole pine, exacerbating the build-up of fuels on the forest floor. The result is an increased risk of severe wildfire, with serious implications for both the park and the adjacent community.

In 2005, the City of Kimberley hired fire ecologist Robert W. Gray to create an interface fire management plan for the community, including the park. Over the past decade, the Kimberley Nature Park Society (KNPS) has worked with the city and its consultants to remove ground fuels and thin crowded stands of trees to reduce the fire hazard and to restore a more natural, open forest. Techniques have included hand-falling, piling and burning, mechanized logging, prescribed burning, and machine mulching.  Funding for this work has been provided by the provincial Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative and the City of Kimberley.


Most of the vegetation in the park, including trees, have unique adaptations that allow them to survive low-intensity fires or to quickly propagate following a severe fire. Some shrubs, such as snowbrush, and some trees, such as lodgepole pine, have seeds that are specially adapted to germinate after a fire. Other trees, such as western larch and ponderosa pine, have thick, fire-resistant bark that allows them to survive low-intensity fires. After a fire, many shrubs and grasses will re-sprout from the roots and grow with great vigour.

To learn more about the work that has been done to reduce the wildfire risk and restore more open, natural forest stands in the park you can read the below posts from our blog.

September 23, 2019

Users of the Nature Park should be especially careful this fall when hiking or biking along Romantic Ridge, Pat Morrow Trail and Lower Army Road (see map below).

We have just learned that a contract has been awarded by the City to Fall Line Forestry for another round of slash, pile and burn work in the Nature Park. We expect that crews will once again be in the Park this fall dicing up small conifers and fallen trees...

November 19, 2018

For the last decade the Kimberley Nature Park Society has been working with the City of Kimberley and its consultants and contractors to reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire in the park. After putting up stiff resistance to proposals for clear-cut logging some years ago, we settled on a plan to use small-scale hand treatments to modify the forest structure. These treatments involve slicing and dicing smaller conifers and...

April 27, 2018

Anyone who has hiked in to Eimer’s Lake or along Eimer’s Ridge in the last month or two will have noticed the chainsaws running and the crews making piles of diced conifers and other debris.  The trails are pretty messy in spots with lots of twigs and branches lying about. 

 Recently constructed burn piles below Eimer's Ridge Trail. 

This work is part of our ongoing effort, managed by the City of Kimberley and contract...

February 25, 2017

The conifer forests that make up most of the nature park have a long and interesting relationship with fire. Variations in climate, weather and the age and density of trees have produced a number of historic fires. 
These range from gentle ground fires that rejuvenated shrubs and maintained open patches of mature trees to stand-replacing fires that burned everything that could burn and started the forest anew. 

The low-intensit...

August 18, 2016

Funding was received this year from the UBCM Wildfire Protection program for hand treatment above the Army Road from Boulder Trail out to Higgins Hill. Contractors worked through the summer and fall of 2016 slashing small conifers and building burn piles. You can view a copy of the prescription here.

The fuel treatment area is outlined in green with a riparian reserve in yellow/blue.

Workers slash small conifers and woody debris...

October 31, 2015

The fuel treatment contractor that was hired to do the work on the Duck Pond unit has proposed that we mulch the piles instead of burning them. He has a skid steer with a mulching attachment mounted on the front that masticates the material in the piles. After seeing a demonstration of the mulching process and visiting sites near Invermere that were recovering from mulching the KNPS agreed that some of the piles could be mulch...

July 2, 2015

It has taken some time but we are now moving ahead with new fuel treatments in the Park. The initial call for proposals resulted in a number of tenders that were over budget but thanks to the folks at the UBCM Community Wildfire Protection program the City of Kimberley now has enough funds to proceed. 
Three areas of the Park totaling just over 41 hectares will be hand treated this summer. (see maps below). Small conifers and...

July 3, 2013

Work is proceeding this summer and fall on the treatment unit above Boulder Trail, parts of the Overwaitea Hill and a revised treatment unit on the south slope of Myrtle Mountain. The Myrtle Mountain treatment area defined in 2011 proved somewhat contentious since it included wetter, north-facing slopes. The new treatment area focuses on dryer, south-facing areas that would be more naturally open if fires were not suppressed....

May 3, 2012

The piles built in the fall and winter of 2010 and 2011 have now been successfully burned. First attempts to burn the piles in February proved problematic because of the amount of snow. A second attempt later in the spring was successful, with easy ignition and near complete combustion. 

Piles of slash along the Lower Army Road were burned in April.

April 6, 2011

The 2010 treatment prescriptions were carried out in the last half of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011. Two contracting crews were hired and one worked in the south end of the Park and one in the north. Hundreds of piles of slashed material were created and most will be left to dry out till the fall of 2011. In a few areas, once the snow came, piles were burned as the crew worked. 

Crews slash, pile and burn small conifers an...

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