Between 2007 and 2016, there was a total of 111 wildland fire starts within the radius service area of the Village of Burns Lake – an average of 11 per year.
That’s according to the village’s community wildfire protection plan (CWPP), which has recently been updated.
According to the CWPP, local weather conditions have been changing to a drier climate with the trend toward longer fire seasons, extending several days each year. The impact of this trend on existing forests may be increased probability of fire frequency, intensity and loss of control of wildfires and increased tree mortality. More severe wildfires could pose a threat to the local community.
According to the CWPP, the mountain pine beetle infestation has resulted in “historic high levels” of dead material that is in the process of blowing down and creating stands with a high to extreme fire hazard. Although commercial harvesting of dead pine has removed many of the pine stands in the vicinity of Burns Lake, “quite a few” remain.
Pine stem rusts are currently considered the most serious disease of managed stands in the Lakes timber supply area. In 2011, a rust sampling project conducted on 70 randomly selected pine stands across the Lakes timber supply area indicated that 99 per cent of the stands had some level of rust present, with 20 per cent of the host trees affected.
Spruce beetle is also considered a high priority forest health factor within the Nadina Forest District. The recent mountain pine beetle epidemic has placed a much greater reliance on spruce to mitigate timber supply impacts in the midterm. Although there haven’t been any large outbreaks in the Nadina, there have been reports of infestations in neighbouring districts. The results of the province’s latest spruce beetle aerial overview survey is expected to be released in December 2017.
The CWPP update identified new areas for fuel treatment work around Burns Lake, including the Omineca Ski Club’s entrance, Boer Mountain and Kager Lake recreation sites, as well as the area east of Burns Lake known as industrial park.
In addition, the village has been working to encourage local homeowners to actively engage in completing FireSmart activities on their residences and around structures of value.
The CWPP was prepared by DWB Consulting Services Ltd through a grant from the Union of B.C. Municipalities and funding from the Village of Burns Lake and Burns Lake Community Forest.