On September 10th the City of Kimberley convened the third and final workshop to discuss the interface fire situation on the west side of town, especially in and around the Kimberley Nature Park. The meeting was attended by the City, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), Teck Cominco, Wildsight, the Chamber of Commerce, Tembec, and the Ministry of Forests (MOF).
Pam Chenery, Kathi Chorneyko and Kent Goodwin were there for the KNPS along with Greg Utzig, the ecologist that we hired to assist us with planning. The day started with some brief updates from Teck Cominco about work they are doing in Forest Crowne and a summary from the MOE of planning they are doing for treatments in the Williamson Sapsucker's habitat area. Following that, Greg Utzig presented the alternative plan that has been developed in consutation with the City's fire ecologist, Bob Gray. (See links to map and report below.)
The workshop took place in the Fire Hall meeting room.
From that point on the meeting became a discussion about the alternative plan and its likelihood of being implemented. Bob Gray felt that the plan Greg put forward would meet the need to reduce fire risk in the Park and the MOE though it would meet the needs of the Sapsucker and other species, (they will be fine-tuning things in the Sapsucker area). The Tembec folks, (Joe Gnucci and Brian Dureski) I think were somewhat appalled by number of trees that would be left standing and made it clear that the plan was not economical and that they could not carry it out under the current forest policies. Everyone agreed with them and Greg (supported by Bob Gray and the Mayor) emphatically made the point that the plan is not about commercial logging but rather ecosystem restoration and interface fire treatment. (There will still be logging but it will not be done in a way that can make a profit given current timber pricing and exchange rates). A statement of support for the plan was crafted by the participants and agreed to by all the groups present (although with some reservations from Tembec and the MOF).
Some estimates of what it would cost to carry out the plan were thrown around and varied from $3 million to $13 million dollars for the initial treatments followed by ongoing maintenance costs. It would likely also require some changes to forest policy including stumpage appraisal. The Mayor and some councilors have meetings scheduled with both the Minister of Forests and the Minister of Environment at the upcoming UBCM gathering and they will try to sell the plan to the Province.
Some of the details of the plan will need to be refined if it appears that funding will become available. Chief among these are access and a determination of where machine logging would be used and where only handwork would be done. The facilitator's meeting notes are now available here.
A map and description of the KNPS alternative treatments can be downloaded here