B.C. adds $5 million to wildfire protection program

Funding will focus on prescription and fuel treatment projects for higher-than-average wildfire risks

The B.C. government is providing an additional $5 million to continue its support of the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative program. The new funding will focus on prescription and fuel treatment projects in communities facing higher-than-average wildfire risks.

The B.C. government introduced the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative in 2004. Between 2004 and 2014, the program provided $62 million to help local governments and First Nations significantly reduce wildfire risks around their communities, especially in interface areas where urban developments border on forests and grasslands.

The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative is managed through the Provincial Fuel Management Working Group, which includes the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. (FNESS), the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM).

To support local government and First Nations access to this new funding, a specialized call for proposals for summer 2015 is being implemented during April. The call for funding proposals will be posted online at: http://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/funding/lgps/current-lgps-programs/strategic-wildfire-prevention.html

The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative, coupled with local government implementation of “FireSmart” bylaws for new developments in the wildland/ urban interface, has been instrumental in reducing the risk of wildfire around the province.

People who live in rural areas can also help protect their homes by using FireSmart principles. The Homeowner’s FireSmart Manual was developed to help reduce the risk of personal property damage due to wildfires. Copies are available at: http://bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/firesmart.htm

As of Dec. 31, 2014, 279 Community Wildfire Protection Plans have been completed by local governments and First Nations. Another 33 are in progress. These plans identify areas at risk and prescribe fuel management projects to address those risks. Examples of projects include conventional harvesting; prescribed burning; improving spacing between live trees; removing dead trees; as well as cleaning up low branches, needles and wood debris that could potentially fuel a fire.

As of Dec. 31, 2014, completed fuel treatments and risk-reduction efforts from all projects covered more than 68,883 hectares of land in and around communities that face a significant wildfire risk. This includes 36,239 hectares of forest affected by the mountain pine beetle.

When not occupied with fire response activities, Wildfire Management Branch crews throughout the province routinely undertake fuel reduction treatments in high-risk areas. Over the past few years, WMB crews have assisted with over 250 treatment projects.

For more information about the FireSmart program is available at: http://bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/firesmart.htm

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

You can also follow the latest wildfire news: On Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo On Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo?_rd