Forest Management Techniques: Mulching
Innovative methods for Fire Mitigation: Mulching in the Creston Valley to reduce wild fire risk.
In 2021 Creston Community Forest Manager, Daniel Gratton, started a pilot project in the Creston Valley using a wildfire risk reduction treatment that involved mulching forest debris rather than relying on burning.
Throughout many of the community forest's wild fire risk reduction projects, a combination of piling/ burning and mulching of forest debris is used.
“One of the problems we face is trying to burn in the late fall and not having proper venting or burning conditions. We’re constantly working with or against the weather. Mulching of debris has proven to be very effective given that smoke levels are abated and soil microbial activity is greatly increased. Nutrients for the soil are always a good thing" says Daniel.
Questions we often receive, "why shouldn't bark mulch be used for landscaping?" Doesn’t it create a risk to the home if a wildfire were to occur?
The other question is, "why do we choose to chip/mulch on our sites?"
The difference with the mulching that occurs on our sites is that forest floor conditions are cooler and damp, compared to the mulch some homeowners may use for landscaping. Given the cooler forest floor, the amount of trees that are left standing, the mulch begins to break down soon after the chipping occurs. Whereas, the mulch used for landscaping around a home is already dried out and doesn't break down as fast.
Even if a wildfire were to occur in a treated area, the risk has been greatly diminished allowing crews much better access into the area, if a wildfire were to occur.
The Community Forest is currently looking into the science behind this risk reduction treatment to substantiate the efficacy of this treatment method.
Seen in slideshow: 1. Forest Manager, Daniel, testing the moisture and temperature of the mulch. 2. Forest floor cleaned up by mulching. 3. Biologist & Board Member, Robyn, feeling the moisture of the layer under top mulch.