Assessing the Feasibility of Meeting Target Fuel Loadings for Wildfire Reduction in North-Central British Columbia
Keywords:fuel treatment, wildfire risk reduction, Canada
Wildland fire has long been recognized as an important disturbance to consider in natural resource management in British Columbia (BC), Canada. Fuel reduction treatments are conducted to achieve designated fuel load targets, measured as the weight of the remaining fuel per unit area (tonnes/hectare [t/ha]). Multiple methods are available to professionals for measuring hazard abatement, but this prevents standardization of data for comparison across the province. To promote a study based in science but through an operational lens, the authors used freely available BC Government documents and guidebooks to perform the fuel measures and fuel load tallies. Thirty-two fuel plots were established in the summer of 2021 within the Burns Lake Community Forest. Field measurements were carried out following mechanical raking treatments to determine if units within the ‘severe’ fuel hazard threshold (FHT) met the target fuel load of 1–5 t/ha. Less than one-third of the plots had a fuel load within the target range. Implications of results are discussed, and several recommendations are proposed to improve the feasibility of post-harvest fuel mitigation practices, including a streamlined fuel measurement methodology and more flexible fuel load targets that would enable better comparisons of treatment feasibility across different fuel types and ecosystems within the province.
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