Fuel management in FLA’s Wildfire Risk Reduction Pilot project begins in forested areas through tree stand thinning and pruning by forestry professionals. Surface material, such as smaller woody plants and shrubs, are also given this treatment. After the thinning and pruning is complete, debris is piled and disposed of through pile burning, which prevents the debris from drying and being used as wildfire fuel later. This generally occurs before grazing, as it opens the forest and can assist with grass growth.
Grazing is another effective technique for fuel reduction and management. When grasses and low-lying small plants dry out, they become fine kindling which a fire can burn across rapidly. To manage the amount of fuel on the selected sites, FLA is conducting targeted grazing, which involves using permanent and mobile fencing to have livestock graze specific areas, at specific times, to reduce the amount of fuel and reduce wildfire risk.
Forests and Grasslands Together
Forests and grasslands are often treated as separate entities, but in BC it is typical for ranchland and rangeland to have both forests and grasslands interplaying throughout the landscape. Their fuel management techniques also work together. Once work in a wooded area has been completed, grazing can help maintain that treatment and prevent forest encroachment onto the grassland.
There are existing programs and processes to reduce forest fuel load on Crown Land, but private landowners lack opportunities to do this scale of risk reduction. Forestry work in particular can be extremely cost prohibitive. Targeted grazing for wildfire risk reduction has been recently piloted across BC on Crown land but is also something that has not previously been financially supported on private land. This makes this pilot project a unique initiative, and Farmland Advantage is thrilled to be taking a lead on piloting this approach.
FLA believes that by working with landowners to reduce wildfire risk through a coordinated approach of forest thinning/pruning with targeting grazing we can achieve a substantial reduction in wildfire threat in these strategic areas, which are “holes” in the Crown land treatments, while also increasing the knowledge of our program, the landowners we work with and project partners on how to apply Targeted Grazing for Wildfire Risk Reduction.
More about FLA
Farmland Advantage is a research and development program that works with farmers to protect and conserve critical, natural lands, streams, and habitats in British Columbia. Farmland Advantage helps farmers identify the natural values on their land that can be protected and enhanced; and develops recommendations and plans to preserve them.
Farmland Advantage takes a regional approach to address environmental and climate concerns. Using site selection methodology that is unique to an area’s specific challenges (e.g., wildfire, drought, or flooding), Farmland Advantage targets farms that have the potential to improve the health of the ecosystem in the immediate and surrounding areas.
Support for the Wildfire Risk Reduction Pilot project has been provided by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests. Support from the BC Wildfire Service is focused on reducing wildfire risk and increasing community resiliency to wildfires across British Columbia.