Making Rossland Less Flammable
As much of the world burns, with deadly wildfires raging in Greece, and significant fires devouring portions of California, Oregon, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Portugal, Siberia, Western Russia, and Finland – not to mention BC’s Okanagan – and as the summer moves into hotter and drier days, some people in Rossland are working to make their neighbourhoods less flammable.
Rossland’s Black Bear neighbourhood residents have been working hard to reduce the wildfire hazard in the forest beside their homes. Last week, the neighbourhood FireSmart Board coordinated a professional chainsaw crew to thin and prune a strip of hazardous forest vegetation along the south perimeter of their neighbourhood. On Sunday morning, 16 people pulled on work gloves and tackled the task of dragging out and piling those trees and branches. The pile will be picked up by Rossland City Operations work crews using a loader and dump truck and moved to a nearby hügelkultur composting site at Rossland’s Moon Gravity Farm.
“It was a lot of fun actually – we worked for about three and a half hours and it goes quickly with so many people helping,” said Anthony Bell, the head of Black Bear’s FireSmart Board and one of the event organizers. Bell was pleased with the results; “It’s amazing what we accomplished – a pretty impressive volume of highly combustible forest debris was dragged out and piled and now one of the priority wildfire hazards that our neighbourhood had identified has been eliminated – surprisingly simple – we all agree that we should have done this years ago.”
Black Bear is entering its second year of participation in Rossland’s FireSmart Communities Program run by FireSmart coordinator Don Mortimer. “This program is actually run by the residents themselves, taking priority actions on simple steps to reduce the wildfire hazard on their homes and in their yards – they work with a fire professional like myself who recommends specific actions and gets them started. Progressively, by staging annual FireSmart Events like Sunday’s fuel reduction session at Black Bear, the neighbourhood reduces wildfire risk and ultimately achieves national recognition under the FireSmart Communities Program” stated Mortimer. “Rossland had three neighbourhoods recognized by the FireSmart Communities Program last year – Black Bear, Iron Colt and McLeod East. All three are renewing their ‘recognition status’ within the program in 2018 and we’re just starting work now with another 4 or 5 Rossland neighbourhoods that have been waiting to get started this year.”
Mortimer is a national facilitator with FireSmart Canada and one of the developers of the FireSmart Communities Program. “This program is really getting rolling here – Rossland is currently the national leader with 3 neighbourhoods recognized within the City but other Kootenay communities like Queens Bay, Kaslo, Robson, Fernie and others are all catching up. I’ve got several growlers of Rossland Brewing Company ale offered to any Canadian municipality that can meet or beat Rossland’s lead – so the challenge is on.”
The question is, if a municipality somewhere far away in Canada meets or beats Rossland’s lead, will they have to travel to Rossland to collect their growlers?
Below: the Black Bear work crew.
Left to right: Curtis Cerovec, George Peck, Christine Andison, Krista Ford, Anthony Bell – Black Bear Community Champion, Oliver Mamon, Ivan Cerovec, Oliver Bell, Don Smith and Don Mortimer, Rossland's local FireSmart representative.