Wildfire protection funding change helps communities

The cost-sharing formula for operational fuel reduction treatments funded through the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative will change

B.C. municipalities, regional districts and First Nations will soon get more help to protect their communities and local infrastructure from wildfire threats, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced today.

In April 2011, the ministry announced new funding of $25 million for the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative. This initiative supports the development of community wildfire protection plans (CWPPs) and fuel management projects in interface areas where urban development borders on forested lands.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities administers the funding, distributing grants to communities on behalf of the B.C. government.

Fuel management is the ongoing process of mitigating the risk of wildfire damage by reducing the amount of waste wood, tree needles, brush and other flammable material that could “fuel” a grassland fire or forest fire.

The cost-sharing formula for operational fuel reduction treatments funded through the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative will change effective Jan. 1, 2013. The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative will pay 90 per cent of the project cost, with an annual cap of $400,000 for municipalities and First Nations and an annual cap of $600,000 for regional districts. The remaining 10 per cent can be an in-kind contribution (e.g. staff time) or a cash payment from the municipality, regional district or First Nation making the application.

Previously, the initiative provided 90 per cent of the project funding up to $100,000 and 75 per cent of the remaining cost, up to a maximum of $400,000 per year.

Operational fuel reduction treatments may include: removing dead trees;  increasing the spacing between live trees; trimming back low-hanging tree branches; and removing or burning off vegetation and wood debris that could potentially fuel a wildfire.

* UBCM fuel management website: http://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/funding/community-safety/strategic-wildfire-prevention.html

* First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. fuels management information: http://fness.bc.ca/forest

* Learn more about the FireSmart program: http://bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/firesmart.htm