The province of British Columbia announced February 26 it is boosting its wildfire prevention efforts with a one-time $85 million injection of resources.
British Columbia Wildfire Funding
The province of British Columbia has announced a new forest society which will be supported by $85 million in government funding.
The new Forest Enhancement Society of BC will focus its efforts on wildfire risk reduction and concentrate its activities on forest rehabilitation, habitat restoration, awareness programs, as well as risk reduction. The work of the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. will help meet the goal of a sustainable and reliable timber supply under the Forest Sector Competitiveness Strategy and aligns with the ministry’s other programs designed to enhance B.C.’s forests, most notably Forests for Tomorrow, Land Based Investment Strategy and integrated silviculture strategies.
The society will conduct fuel management activities such as thinning, pruning, and removing woody debris from forests, especially those impacted by the mountain pine beetle infestation. It will also clear stands damaged by wildfire, design fuel management and forest rehabilitation activities, and work with rural property owners to raise awareness about steps they can take to protect their homes from wildfires.
After a decade of rising forest-fire risks due to climate change and an- other budget-busting year of wild- fire fighting, British Columbia is boosting its fire prevention efforts with a one-time $85 million injection of resources.
The funding will be administered by a newly announced forest enhancement society made up of former industry and civil-service professional foresters, Minister of Forests Steve Thomson said February 26.
The funds will be spent on efforts such as thinning and removing deadfall in high-fire-risk forest stands, clearing and replanting areas burned in wildfires, habitat restoration in pine-beetle damaged regions and public awareness in rural areas where populations intersect with forests.
British Columbia Wildfires
Wildfires scorched 280,000 hectares of forests in 2015, which wasn’t as extensive as the 369,169 hectares that burned in 2014. But last year’s fire season saw dozens of homes destroyed near the village of Rock Creek in the southern interior and a handful more at Puntzi Lake, a rural community near Williams Lake in the Cariboo.
The estimated cost of $373 million in 2015 vastly exceeded the $63 million provincial budget for wildfire fighting, the ninth time firefighting costs have blown beyond budget in the last 10 years.
Thomson said the province is also adding another $10 million to its strategic wildfire prevention program, administered by the Union of BC Municipalities, which is aimed at helping communities reduce wildfire risks where municipal boundaries reach into forests.
The forest enhancement society’s work is intended to complement those efforts at a broader “landscape level” beyond municipal boundaries, Thomson said.
BC New Chief Forester
Diane Nicholls becomes the province’s newest chief forester, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson said February 26.
Nicholls, who is the province’s 17th chief forester, has been acting in the position since November 2014. As chief forester, Nicholls is responsible for determining timber harvest levels for each timber supply area and tree farm license in the province.