Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in the Thompson-Okanagan region.
Through a provincial investment of $25 million, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has funded 22 new community projects, including eight in the Thompson-Okanagan region. This includes work to reduce wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and support forest recreation and ecological resiliency.
“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with the historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, these new projects funded by FESBC will help build communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”
Wildfire-mitigation projects funded in the Thompson-Okanagan region include:
- Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $60,323 – Wildfire risk reduction treatments on areas identified as priority treatment areas in their Wildfire Fire Risk Management Plan with the goal to enhance wildfire resiliency.
- Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $129,381 – Manual treatments on area identified in its Wildfire Risk Management Plan that will enhance the wildfire resiliency of the community forest.
- Silver Star Property Owners Association, $474,600 – Completing a combination of hand and mechanical wildfire risk-reduction treatment to reducing the wildfire risk along the main road in and out of SilverStar Mountain Resort.
- Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation, $544,425 – Complete wildfire risk reduction treatments to reduce the wildfire risk to Steffens Estates subdivision located north of Lower Nicola Indian Band’s Mameet IR #1, approximately 17 kilometres north of Merritt on Highway 97C.
- Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $746,550 – This project aims to develop prescriptions and treat areas near Logan Lake, creating a large landscape-level fuel break.
- Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $127,050 – Complete planning and preparation required to complete treatments along a corridor along the Coquihalla Highway, leading to the reduction in risk to the highway, reducing the risk of human-caused ignitions from the highway spreading into surrounding forest.
- Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $105,000 – Complete the planning work required to complete a fuel-reduction treatment to allow for a safer evacuation route for the community at Paska Lake.
- Vermilion Forks Community Forest, $814,078 – A steep area close to the community of Coalmont will be thinned to create a fuel break.
“FESBC is thrilled that communities will be able to continue this important work to reduce their wildfire risk to better protect their residents and important infrastructure,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “These newly funded projects take a proactive approach to reduce the risks of wildfire and many will also improve wildlife habitat, increase the health of forests so they are more resilient to climate change, and use the left-over wood waste to make green energy. Achieving multiple objectives is good forest management and good value for money.”
Work has already begun, and all projects are expected to be complete by March 2024. To date, approved funding from the FESBC 2022-23 Funding Program totals $14 million. Additional applications through the FESBC portal are welcome and will be accepted until the $25-million fund has been allocated.
Since 2016, FESBC has supported more than 260 projects throughout B.C. Sixty-three of these projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations’ involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.
“For this project, the treatment area is immediately adjacent to numerous rural homes and properties. We believe it’s the logical second phase to the interface harvesting that we completed in the early summer of 2022,” said Don Gossoo, general manager, Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation. “I am confident this area post-treatment will showcase how interface harvesting and wildfire risk-reduction treatments go hand in hand. We are appreciative to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC and the Province of B.C. for the funding to help us achieve this work.”
As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development. This will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s expanding forest bioeconomy.
The $25 million provided to FESBC is a component of $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.
“People across the Okanagan have first-hand experience with the disastrous affects of wildfires, and these investments will take important steps to protect people, communities and land,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “Not only will this keep our communities safe, but it will also help ensure that our backcountry areas are environmentally stable and resilient for generations to come.”
FESBC is a Crown agency established in 2016 to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating wildfire impacts, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of greenhouse gases.
Forest Enhancement Society of BC: https://www.fesbc.ca/
To view funded projects, visit: