On May 28th and 29th, four members of the KNPS attended a workshop sponsored by the City to discuss a fire risk reduction plan for the Nature Park. With us at the meeting was ecologist Greg Utzig, who we have hired to advise us on the technical issues. Also attending were representatives from City Council, the Fire Department, Tembec, the MOF Protection Branch, the Ministry of Environment, the Kimberley Nordic Club, the Chamber of Commerce and Wildsight. Conspicuous by their absence were any representatives of the Ministry of Forests District Manager.
Significant events on the first day of the workshop were:
- the presentation by Fire Ecologist Bob Gray, of new computer simulations showing how a variety of treatments including logging and hand work affected the initiation and spread of Crown fire. The simulations showed that leaving considerably more trees after logging (up to 400 large stems/hectare) was possible without an increased risk of Crown Fire. Tembec was proposing to leave 75 large trees per hectare, with up to 100 small non-merchantable trees. The simulations also showed that Crown fire could be eliminated in some areas without any logging at all, just by removing ground and ladder fuels and hand cutting advanced regeneration.
- the presentation by the KNPS representatives of an alternative to the Tembec plan which would drastically reduce logging and road building in the Park. You can read the proposal in .pdf format here. Below is a map of the Tembec logging plan with areas that we propose might be logged either circled in blue or vertically hatched. The Park boundary is shown in green.
On the second day of the workshop Tembec responded to our proposal in a tentatively positive fashion and a timetable was quickly worked out which would see Tembec provide our ecologist with the digital information he required to refine the proposal, a review of the proposal by Tembec, a further review by Bob Gray and a meeting of the technical folks from all parties. We are hoping to have a full meeting of the workshop participants in early July to attempt to come to a final agreement on what will happen in the Park. It is still unclear what role the Ministry of Forests will play in this process and some intensive lobbying of the Provincial Government may be necessary to obtain their support.