Shelly Somerville is concerned that mitigation work will not be done in the greenbelt off Donsleequa Road until this winter. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).

Shelly Somerville is concerned that mitigation work will not be done in the greenbelt off Donsleequa Road until this winter. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).

Fire mitigation sought for 108 Mile greenbelt

Local woman concerned at buildup of potential fuel sources

A 108 Mile woman is calling for the Cariboo Regional District to do some fire mitigation work in the 108 Mile Greenbelt behind her house ahead of the summer wildfire season.

Shelly Somerville is concerned about the slash in the 13-hectare property off Donsleequa Road, noting no work has been done to space trees or clear slash in more than a decade. Several trees had been marked for removal last fall, but the work wasn’t done because the CRD wasn’t able to book a special contractor for the job.

The work is now scheduled to happen this fall or winter, which Somerville said may be too late, especially if the region experiences another fire season similar to 2021.

“I feel like I’m spitting in the wind,” Somerville said. “My husband is thinning trees on our property. Our hands are tied.”

Chris Betuzzi, a registered forest technician who sits on the 108 Mile Greenbelt Commission, said they need a small contractor to do the work in that section of the greenbelt. There are only two in the area, he added, and both were booked solid last winter.

“We do not want to use big, full-sized logging equipment in this area just because there are so many homes around there,” he said. “We don’t want to damage the landscape. It’s kind of parkland in there so we’re trying to strike a balance of reducing the fire hazard while keeping up the aesthetics.”

Betuzzi acknowledged the debris is starting to pile up in that section of the greenbelt but is “not out of the ordinary.” He said some mitigation work had been done close to the pumphouse in 2006 but further some of the areas further south have not been touched since the mid-’70s.

He added the area has a moderate fire risk although “some sections are high which is why we want to reduce the overall risk to moderate.” The area is also leased to the Blue Goose Cattle Co., which means cattle help keep down the grasslands this summer as well as small aspen shoots.

Betuzzi said they are working on booking the contractor for later this fall or winter, as it is too costly to do the work by hand. The 1,400 homeowners in 108 Mile pay a $10 fee to maintain the grasslands but this wouldn’t be enough to even cover three hectares.

“We appreciate people are concerned but we want to make sure we do it the proper way,” he said. “Unfortunately we’re just going to have to wait.”



kelly.sinoski@100milefreepress.net

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