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Fire safety work to close trails at Delta's Watershed Park

The project is to reduce the potential of a wildfire spread in Watershed Park and the surrounding area
watershed park 2 delta bc
The project taking place in July and in August. It will see thinning of smaller trees, pruning retained trees and removal of surface fuel.

Due to its size and proximity to residential neighbourhoods, vegetation is to be thinned over the next few weeks at North Delta’s popular Watershed Park to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Part of Delta’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan, the project will involve management of vegetation along pathways and roadways in and adjacent to the park.

The City of Delta also says it is focusing treatments on areas near the residential fence line to protect houses and on the areas surrounding the fire hall and Pinewood Elementary.

The work includes cutting down small trees with trunks less than 12.5 cm in diameter, retaining the larger trees, pruning tree branches up to a height of three metres, removal of surface fuel while also maintaining large woody debris and standing dead trees for wildlife habitat.

The city notes the treatments will reduce potential surface and crown fire behaviour.

“The focus for fuel management is not necessarily to stop fire but to decrease fire behavior and to ensure that fire intensity is low enough that fire damage is limited. Fuel management near homes may prevent structure ignition due to direct flame contact. FireSmarting your home will help to reduce the risk from an ember shower,” the city’s fire department explained in a notification to area residents.

The project means there will be temporary trail closures and the contractor will post signs where and when the trails will close. The timeline will be roughly six weeks, weather depending.

As far as which nearby homes will see work done this year, the city notes the fuel management prescription area will be split into seven parcels. Three of those parcels will be treated in 2022.

The city plans to treat the remaining parcels in the next few years, as its budget allows.

Outlining what homeowners can also do to protect their own properties, the fire department letter says the city’s initiatives to reduce the risk of wildfire includes increasing staff park patrols during high and extreme fire danger periods.

“Residents visiting parks are also helpful ‘eyes and ears’ to report fires in their early stages and facilitate a prompt and effective fire response if an issue should arise,” the letter notes.

Coun. Lois Jackson told the Optimist the plan for Watershed Park is a big one which required council’s public discussion so that the people are better informed, but that hasn’t happened. 

Since council won’t have a meeting again until late July, it likely won’t be happening, she said.

Outlining other concerns how the city and current council conducts business, Jackson said staff appear to have been given the authority to put any projects or issues onto an online Delta page and saying that is council’s input from the public.