Anyone hoping for unfettered snowy adventures at Champion Lakes Provincial Park this winter only has a few weeks to do it.
BC Parks will be closing areas of Champion Lakes to the public in early January to begin wildfire mitigation.
“Mitigation work will start on January 8th after the Christmas break,” spokesperson Pamela Roth told the Trail Times.
“To protect the public, there may be areas of the park closed this winter while crews are working. This closure information will be available on the BC Parks website and the contractor will have signs posted at the park to notify the public of closed areas.”
Work will encompass a small area, or approximately 60 hectares of the park’s 1,408-hectare boundary. Mitigation will include the day-use beach, parking, the adventure playground and roads, as well as muster zones in and around the campground.
“BC Parks plans to have enough treatment work completed this winter to significantly increase the safety of the public in the summer of 2019,” Roth said.
Crews will be thinning and brushing to remove understory vegetation, as well as cleaning trees and debris off the forest floor to create safe muster zones, bolster egress routes, and to prevent the spread and intensity of wildfire.
“Champion Lakes Park has only one access and egress road,” Roth said. “The park also has fuel loading issues due to lack of wildfire. BC Parks is conducting the fuel treatment work to ensure public safety.”
Some tree removal will be required to reduce the risk of what is called a crown fire, the most catastrophic and quickest spreading type of wildfire.
“The areas of the treatment unit necessitating tree removal will require heavier equipment including possible feller-bunchers and more conventional logging equipment,” explained Roth.
“Road access for logging trucks and equipment is required to remove trees from the park.”
The majority of mitigation, however, will be done by crews working with hand tools, like chainsaws. The resulting debris will be disposed of in a variety of ways including the possibility of chipping, burning, donating/selling for firewood, and/or removal to a local pulp mill for use of the fibre.
“The majority of the treatment occurring in the park will not require major tree removal,” Roth added. “But serves to remove fuels from the forest floor through the removal of small diameter trees, brush and pruning of branches up to a height of three metres.”
So far six hectares adjacent to the campground have been thinned and brushed of undergrowth.
At this time, no completion date has been set. However, Roth said wildfire mitigation will continue at Champion Lakes over the next two winters.
“BC Parks has best management practices requiring fuel management work with heavier equipment to be done in a way that minimizes ground disturbance,” she clarified.
“Working in the winter on snow covered frozen ground is required to meet these objectives, (and) ensures there is no impact from this treatment to nesting and breeding birds and other wildlife.”