BC Parks to address Coldstream concerns over wildfire danger in Kal Lake Park

Wildfire danger in Kal Park

Coldstream councillors will hear from BC Parks on Monday about what is being done to reduce wildfire risk in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.

Area supervisor Ryan Elphick will discuss the efforts.

Undated photos in council's agenda package show significant forest growth throughout the park over the decades.

Another shows dozens of historical fire starts in and around the park going all the way back to the 1950s.

Elphick is expected to lay out priority interface treatment recommendations.

Wildfire prevention efforts have been ongoing in recent years, with the addition of signage and increased ranger patrols of the park, along with fuel mitigation projects by contractors and volunteers with the Friends of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.

BC Parks documentation states that fire is a natural process and many ecosystems have evolved to rely on periodic wildfire events to maintain a healthy balance.

"Fire returns nutrients to the soil, removes plant debris buildup, thins out tree density to allow sunlight to reach other plants, and encourages new plant growth," it says.

"We can't prevent wildfires from happening, but by replicating the effects of a natural fire we can reduce the chances of a high-intensity fire from occurring ... By manually removing fuels and thinning out the forest, we reduce the chances of a catastrophic wildfire."

In October, Minister of Environment George Heyman said in a letter to Coldstream that the park is prioritized for ranger patrols, but does not have a specific wildfire plan.

"However, ecosystem restoration, fuel management and wildfire risk reduction have been priorities since the early 2000s," Heyman said.

He was responding to a letter sent by Mayor Ruth Hoyte on Aug. 31 raising concern about the fire threat in the park.

Coldstream is seeking a further expansion of ranger enforcement and increased no smoking/fire risk signage throughout the park.

Hoyte said the park landscape has changed significantly since the 1970s, when it was more open grassland.

More Vernon News