The town has submitted an expression of interest to pursue FireSmart funding to complete the first part of a larger plan to eliminate wildfire risks within Cochrane corporate limits.

Earlier this week, town council approved an application for funding through the Forest Resource Improvement Assoc. of Alberta ((FRIAA) to address the priority units established in its wildfire mitigation strategy.

One hundred per cent of the estimated $105,000 (2019 values) cost is sought to complete projects identified in Crawford Ranch, Bow Meadows, and Riveria/Riversong. The Crawford Ranch unit includes measures to expand the continuous fuel break that the Stoney Nakoda First Nation has already completed along its eastern boundary of Cochrane.

Work undertaken would include fuel breaks, thinning and pruning, vegetation removal and reduction, conversion to more fire-resistant species, and providing community awareness and education.

Should the town be successful in its application, Cochrane Fire Chief Shawn Polley says it's anticipated to take 30 days to complete and be undertaken in the winter months. He says a failure to receive the full amount of funding required might mean a return visit to council.

"It is our intent that if we are rewarded this grant through FRIAA that we'll be able to proceed to the next level of their process and be able to expand further on the project that we're actually looking for," he told town council.

The wildfire mitigation plan has been broken into 11 units within corporate limits, covering 131 hectares of land. They have been prioritized into two zones. To complete all 11 units is estimated to cost $335,000 in 2019 values.

Maintenance cycles will be required upon completion.

Polley told council that FireSmart is about living with wildfire and managing it on our land base.

"FireSmart methods have been demonstrated time and time again to reduce the risk of losses, even under the most extreme fire conditions."

wildfireThe wildfire was brought under control by a comprehensive operation of combined fire crews. (Cochrane Now file photo)

On May 23, 2018, a wildfire along that boundary threatened to enter communities on the west side of town. The fire raged across the Bow River in clear sight of residents of Pointe West. An aggressive wildfire operation involving several crews limited the blaze to about 15 hectares without entering the community.

In 2018-29, Cochrane received a $35,000 grant from FRIAA to complete both its wildlife mitigation strategy and wildland fire hazard reduction prescription plans. Their completion was key to applying for further funding.

firesmart map