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Former councillor urges fire guard ‘headband’ be cut around Salmon Arm

Chad Eliason could provide safety, jobs and trails
Sk’atsin Silvatech Ventures’ Ty Moynahan and Riley Conner remove narrow logs from an area of Little Mountain Park as part of the City of Salmon Arm’s wildfire fuel management efforts under its Community Wildfire Protection Plan in January 2022. (File photo)

A former municipal councillor is urging the city to pursue creating a fire guard “headband” around Salmon Arm.

In a letter to the city, Chad Eliason encourages working with the province and local forest companies to plan and log a fire break around the community. He noted communities need fire breaks and FireSmart programs cost money.

“This would mean expanding their licences into areas that they would not have been able to log previously,” wrote Eliason. “I envision a headband-like ring around the city.

“While not acceptable in the past as it was not aesthetically pleasing, it could make a big difference.”

Eliason said the initiative would result in jobs, increased safety and trails.

“That’s a HAT TRICK from a headband.”

Coun. Kevin Flynn saw merit to Eliason’s suggestion, though jokingly said he didn’t wish to give the former councillor credit, as it’s something he’s “been talking about forever.”

“In light of our continued issues with wildfire and in light of the costs of FireSmarting, I really do think there needs to be a further discussion on this issue,” said Flynn, noting complaints were raised when the city had work done to FireSmart Little Mountain.

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“I think there’s a huge opportunity here to perhaps provide a ring around the town – he calls it a headband – but bottom line is the AAC (annual allowable cut) has been cut – this could be a win-win where mills can get fibre that is on Crown land, and that could protect our community.”

Flynn agreed it would be worth working “creatively with the minister of forests with other levels of government to discuss this.”

Coun. Tim Lavery suggested that in the fall, the city provide a community update on what has happened and what is to come with Salmon Arm’s two-year wildfire protection plan. He also noted past plans by BC Timber sales to cut a swath of timber along Mount Ida, and suggested the city get an update.

Flynn also discussed use of backburns to eliminate fuels.

“Being the chair of the regional district (CSRD) and having gone through this the last two weeks, one of the most controversial pieces… is backburns to eliminate fuel,” said Flynn. “Backburns take fuel away so that very active wildfires can’t keep moving forward towards communities. Backburns have been used forever in fighting fires… I know people can’t stand the look of trees gone, but in my mind we have to start thinking more creatively and supporting an industry that’s been the backbone of our province while also protecting communities from unprecedented wildfires.”
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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