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Projects underway in Kootenay-Boundary will reduce community wildfire risk, enhance forest health

November 28, 2022 at 6:56 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in the Kootenay-Boundary region. 

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is investing in 12 new wildfire risk reduction projects, including three in the Kootenay-Boundary Region. The FESBC has approved a total of 34 new wildfire risk reduction projects to be completed by March 2024. These projects are reducing wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and supporting 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.”

The wildfire-mitigation projects funded in the Kootenay-Boundary region are:

  • Nk’Mip Forestry LLP, $622,125 – developing plans and implementing thinning treatments along the Mount Baldy access road.
  • City of Kimberley, $400,000 – understory thinning treatments in a sensitive wildlife area, which will create a landscape level fire break for Kimberley.
  • Nakusp and Area Community Forest, $356,207 – planning for and implementation of wildfire risk reduction treatments in the Wensley Creek recreation area near Nakusp.

“FESBC is pleased to further support communities in reducing their risk of wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “Their thoughtful and collaborative approaches result in numerous additional objectives also being achieved at the same time with the same funding: improved wildlife habitat; greater forest recreation opportunities; local employment; community economic benefits; forests that are more resilient to fire, insects, disease and future climate change; and sometimes reduce greenhouse gases and improve Indigenous participation in the forest economy in British Columbia.”

FESBC has approved 263 projects over the past five years throughout B.C. Sixty-three of the 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.

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, which will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s green economy. The projects funded through FESBC will help achieve these goals.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of the $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.

FESBC is a Crown agency established to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating the effects of wildfires, 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.

Quotes:

Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen –

“Our vision for forestry in B.C. revolves around managing for community values, rather than simply fibre volumes. After visiting the work that Nk’Mip Forestry is doing in partnership with Vaagen, it’s evident this area is a great example of just that. Sustainable forest practices protect biodiversity, promote climate resiliency, support sustainable good employment in our communities and are vital for protecting our communities from wildfires. These projects will focus on local wildfire risk reduction and creation of economic returns for the communities, and do this while improving wildlife habitat, promoting Indigenous values and supporting safe, resilient forest recreation.”

Peter Flett, registered professional forester, Vaagen Fibre Canada –

“A huge thanks to FESBC for providing this funding to Nk’Mip Forestry for the fuel-mitigation project along Baldy Road. It is an essential travel and emergency evacuation corridor between the Boundary region and South Okanagan, which was highlighted during last year’s Nk’Mip Creek wildfire. This funding will be utilized to reduce fuel loading on both sides of the road, while providing employment and training opportunities to Osoyoos Indian Band and local contractors.”

Dan Macmaster, fibre manager, Vaagen Fibre Canada, and community forest manager, West Boundary Community Forest

“Collaboration with Osoyoos Indian Band and traditional knowledge keepers is at the heart of this project. While fuel reduction is a primary objective along the corridor, we are also sharing the landscape with at-risk wildlife, such as Williamson’s sapsucker and ungulates. Taking direction from key personnel at the Band office and community members is imperative to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat, water and other cultural values is incorporated appropriately into the prescription and operational plans.”

Learn More:

Forest Enhancement Society of BC: https://www.fesbc.ca/

To view funded projects, visit: https://www.fesbc.ca/projects/

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