Connaught Ranges

The Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre - Forest Fire Management Plan

In January of 2005, IFS Associates was engaged by the Department of National Defence (DND) to create a forest fire management plan for the Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre.  This facility encompasses 1050 ha of largely forested terrain and is located within close proximity to a number of private and corporate holdings including a YMCA/YWCA Camp, a golf course and hotel complex, a number of high-technology parks and several rural residential developments.

The need for this plan arose from the concern that munitions training at the Connaught Ranges could result in a forest fire.  The importance of the Connaught Ranges to the Department of National Defence, coupled with its proximity to other private interests and residences, underlies the importance of (i) preventing the occurrence of anthropogenic (i.e. man-caused) fires; and (ii) should a fire start, having in place a plan to effectively combat a fire and prevent its spread.

The primary objective of this project was to develop a 5-Year Forest Fire Management Plan for the Connaught Ranges with an emphasis on preventing the ignition of a fire.  A secondary objective was to put in place guidelines to effectively manage a fire should one start.  As such, the Management Plan included:

  • a review any existing Forest Management Plan(s) and the fire prediction, prevention and management approaches currently in place at the Connaught Ranges;
  • a forest resource inventory to identify overstory and understory species composition, successional state and forest health (disease, pests, etc.) to better understand the profile of the forest;
  • the identification of factors that will increase the risk of fire ignition and spread, including evaluating the forest and ground cover to assess fire prone species and underlying fuel levels;
  • a review the appropriateness of predictive systems such as the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System and the Fine Fuel Moisture Code to predict the site’s susceptibility to anthropogenic fires;
  • the identification of specific approaches to prevent anthropogenic forest fires including recommending specific silvicultural interventions (e.g. group selection of trees, selective thinning, etc.) to reduce fire risks;
  • a discussion of the general criteria for fire spread and provide general guidelines for fire control should a fire take place;
  • a review of the natural and man-made fire breaks and road systems currently in place within the facility to combat fires and recommended improvements including identifying the need for new fire breaks and enhancements to the road systems;
  • providing guidelines to improve preparedness of the Connaught Ranges personnel to manage a fire should a fire take place;
  • identifying costs of implementing the Forest Fire Management Plan;
  • a 5-year work plan to initiate implementation of the Forest Fire Management Plan;
  • training to Connaught Ranges personnel to implement the Forest Management Plan.

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