TA1319 Primary Fuel Break
BCTS – 100 Mile House/108 Mile House/Moose Valley
2020 – 2022
As part of Cabin Resource Management’s 100 Mile House Multiphase contract Cabin developed a 254ha primary fuel break to help reduce wildfire risk for the community of 108 Mile House. This was done under in collaboration with BC Timber Sales and the 100 Mile House Natural Resource District. The goal of the project is to create a managed forest that at will act as both a fuel break for 108 Mile House and an area to action any potential fire threatening 108 Mile House. The final goal of the project was to have little to no understory in order to eliminate ladder fuel with a target of 200 mature fire resistance stems/ha without interlapping crowns and remove surface fuels. This project also allowed Cabin to bring both our Wildfire and Forestry Divisions together to collaborate on one project.
Due to the intent and size of this project it presented several challenges. The challenges were generally professional but one of the most difficult parts was how to break down the professional solution into an plan that’s operationally easy to understand and achievable.
From a professional perspective this block had several challenges, and some of which are listed here; patch size conflicts, moose habitat and access controls, multiple stakeholders including ranchers, trappers and private land owners, stocking standard exemptions, sensitive soils, Lake Management Zones, visuals, invasive plants, fisher habitat, as well as large scale wildfire plots and cruise plans.
The main operational challenges focused around how to meet goals set out in the site plan during harvesting. There are three main issues that create operational challenges: Maintaining Thermal and Thermal plus security cover in MMUs, achieving Stocking Standards immediately after harvest and achieving the goal of a creating an effective fuel break while meeting the above and all other commitments.
A Moose Management Units (MMU) are a 100m buffer around a wetland as per the 100 Mile House FSP and are required around every wetland. MMUs are required to meet a minimum amount of both Thermal and Thermal plus Security Cover which each have a specific definition in the 100 Mile FSP. As the goal of this project was to remove the understory and remove dead trees and excessive CWD. This conflicts with how Thermal and Security Cover were envisioned to be managed. There is opportunity to create a solution to meet the goals of the fuel break while meeting the requirements for the MMUs.
One of the objectives of the fuel break was to leave the block fully stocked at the time harvest finished. Planting would increase the ladder fuel and should be avoided. The problem is that there is not an approved stocking standard in the FSP that meets the goal of the primary fuel break.
The third and most basic operational challenge for this block is how to let the logger know what the result should look like while meeting the above stocking stand and cruise reductions, MMU requirements and meeting all other commitments. As this is a BCTS Timber Sale the logging contractor will be based on the highest bidder and may not necessarily worked on a fuel break or understand the final goal.
The solution to the stocking standards challenge is that alternative stocking standards were developed. As these stocking standards were not in the FSP we had to apply to the District Manager for an exemption to use the new stocking standards for the site. The stocking standards were multi-layer stocking standard with a lower stem/ha total than any in the FSP. It also had Aspen as a preferred species with an emphasis on fire resistant species such as Douglas Fir. As this was a priority TSL to be submitted the Site Plan was submitted before the stocking standards were approved resulting in an existing multi-layer stocking standard in the FSP being used with the intent of amending the Site Plan once the stocking standards were approved.
There were several wetlands surrounding TA1319 each of them having a Moose Management Unit associated with them. Each wetland required 30% thermal cover and 70% thermal plus security cover. A spatial analysis was completed using Arc GIS 10.6. It was determined that two wetlands required thermal cover and three wetlands required security cover as well. As the requirements for thermal cover are very restrictive the thermal cover was maintained in WTRAs. Some of the areas required for security contained either very dense understory with a lot of laddering potential or mature dead timber. The solution to help ensures that both the fuel break and the moose objectives could be met, was to create separate treatment units. In this treatment area dead timber could be removed and immature and a small amount of mature timber removed if the result met the multi-layer stocking standards set in the FSP leaving a fully stocked stand.
Primary Fuel Break Intent
The biggest challenge and most consequential part of this project was to create a harvest plan that a feller buncher operator could follow. The Harvest Plan must be easy enough to follow that someone who has never worked on a fuel break project before could succeed with. Without a clear and easy plan to follow the result may not resemble the desired intent result ins not meeting the targets described to the stake holders or in the Site Plan. Several simple but effective measures were used to help the logger create the intended result. The first line of the harvest plan is a description of the goal of the project, what the project is trying to achieve and why. This helps the logger understand and get a mental image of what they are trying to achieve. Targets for diameter selection were given in both cm and inches. A detailed breakdown of expected diameter classes retention was given with a simplified version of how far apart stems should be spaced to meet those retention requirements. For example, 150 stems/ha is 1 stem every 8m in a grid pattern. In addition to this the cruise was reduced with the disclaimer that the cruise reductions were targets and the distribution and final number of stems may vary. In addition to the above measures, it was decided with BCTS that TA1319 would need to be monitored by a professional to ensure that the harvest would result in the desired intent.
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