Premier offers up cash to reduce wildfire risk to communities

“We’re committed to improving the ecological health of our ravaged forests..."

To reduce the wildfire risk to communities, Premier Christy Clark announced a top-up of $10 million to the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative and tasked the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to look at other ways to reduce wildfire risk through on-the-ground operations.

“We’re committed to improving the ecological health of our ravaged forests as well as working to ensure communities can benefit from the jobs they provide. I believe this new program will also meet objectives under our Forest Sector Competitiveness Strategy to provide a reliable and sustainable timber supply and stability for rural communities,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, in a press release.

The announcement brings the total amount provided to the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative since 2004 to $78 million. The program is intended 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. As of Sept. 1, 286 community wildfire protection plans have been completed and over 78,245 hectares of land in and around high-risk communities have been treated.

As well, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will be developing the Forest Enhancement Program, to undertake salvage harvesting of dead timber, wildfire risk reduction and fuel management operations, and to enhance reforestation efforts and wildlife habitat restoration in stands severely impacted by wildfires and mountain pine beetle in the Interior. Enhancement would also occur on low-productivity, high-elevation hemlock and balsam forests on the coast to increase their long-term value. The program will specifically target areas that were previously thought to be too uneconomic to harvest and reforest.

Revenues generated from the sale of harvested timber and residual wood fibre from firescaping fuel management treatments and preparing areas for reforestation will be re-invested into the fund.

Pellet plants, OSB plants and other secondary manufacturers have been able to create new jobs and make use of residual fibre and low-quality mountain pine beetle attacked timber, creating a new economic sector.

The increased investment in reforestation will restore and enhance wildlife habitat that has been disturbed by the mountain pine beetle infestation and the accompanying large-scale salvage harvesting that occurred.

Firescaping, also known as landscape fire management planning, will see thinned park-like forests established on Crown land surrounding communities at high risk from wildfire. In areas where this has already occurred, communities are enjoying the recreational advantages of these open stands.

Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations staff, working with communities, First Nations and the forest industry will select the best sites for treatment. BC Timber Sales will auction the harvest opportunities with revenues going back into the Forest Enhancement Program. In some areas, harvest opportunities will be directly awarded to First Nations.

The program will be operational in 2016-17.



Just Posted

Giants ground Rockets in WHL action

Vancouver builds early lead, never looks back in 6-1 win at Langley Events Centre

Pedestrian hit at ‘dangerous’ Kelowna cross walk

Emergency officials responded to a cross walk that neighbours say is unsafe Saturday evening

Permitted burns in Okanagan mountains

Kelowna Fire Department says please don’t call 911

Pets sit in Santa’s lap

Kelowna - The Okanagan Small Dog Rescue Society held a pet photo opt today

Your weekend highlights

Each week, the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Giants stop Rockets’ 4-game winning streak

Vancouver scored four first-period goals to down Kelowna in WHL action.

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Massive monster truck tour held in Kelowna

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour will be here in January, 2018

Boomer radio expands

Kelowna resident Allen Holender continues to expand his network

Most Read