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.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
"This change in the funding formula should encourage more municipalities, regional districts and First Nations to develop community wildfire protection plans and undertake fuel management projects to help protect their communities from wildfire. Our government is making it easier for B.C. communities to take these important steps in protecting their communities from wildfire."
Mary Sjostrom, president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities -
"These changes will ease the financial burden on local governments undertaking wildfire risk reduction projects. UBCM appreciates the ongoing support of the provincial government for communities through the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative."
Brent Langlois, manager, Kamloops Office Forest Fuel Management, First Nations' Emergency Services Society -
"The change to the funding ratio will make the program more accessible for communities. We look forward to the co-ordinated efforts of all stakeholders. Building relationships through collaborations is a cornerstone of achieving enhanced community wildfire protection and we recognize the continued accomplishments of First Nations communities."
- The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the First Nations' Emergency Services Society of B.C., working together as the Provincial Fuels Management Working Group.
- As of Oct. 31, 2012, 305 CWPPs had either been initiated or completed by local governments and First Nations. This included 241 completed CWPPs and an additional 64 CWPPs that are still in progress.
- To date, completed fuel treatments and risk-reduction efforts have covered more than 46,838 hectares of land in and around communities that face significant wildfire risks. This includes 25,775 hectares of forests that have been affected by the mountain pine beetle.
- Since the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative was introduced in 2004, the British Columbia and federal governments have provided $62 million to support the initiative.
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
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations