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B.C. works with communities to boost wildfire prevention, preparedness

April 22, 2024 at 9:54 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

To increase wildfire prevention and help keep people safe, the Province has taken action over the past six years to strengthen provincial and community capacity for wildfire mitigation and preparedness.

In recent years, the BC Wildfire Service’s prevention and mitigation efforts have expanded rapidly. The BC Wildfire Service has grown into a year-round organization focused on proactively reducing wildfire risks as well as responding to fires. Prevention efforts have included hundreds of wildfire risk-reduction and fuel-management projects with partner agencies, with 61 cultural and prescribed fire projects planned for 2024, 25 of which have been implemented this spring.

Since 2018, the Province, through BC Wildfire Service, has invested approximately $466 million in wildfire-resiliency and risk-reduction projects. The Province’s approach to wildfire risk reduction is through strategic partnerships with communities, First Nations and external partners, in addition to the BC Wildfire Service’s direct wildfire mitigation.

In advance of this year’s wildfire season, the Province continues to work on fuel mitigation and community preparedness activities to reduce the threat of wildfire, in partnership with local governments and First Nations, and the following organizations:

FireSmart BC

FireSmart actions are tested and proven, and they increase a home’s chance of survival in the event of a wildfire. FireSmart is the Canadian standard recognized by all provinces and territories based on National Fire Protection Association standards.

As a national leader in wildfire prevention and preparedness, work by FireSmart BC includes:

  • funding 223 local governments and First Nations to undertake FireSmart activities;
  • more than 90 local FireSmart co-ordinators and 205 FireSmart recognized neighbourhoods;
  • 214 dedicated FireSmart positions funded or partially subsidized in communities throughout the province; and
  • 65 garden-centre locations throughout B.C. that participate in the FireSmart Plant Program. 

Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and First Nation Emergency Services Society

Since 2018, the Province has taken action in partnership with the UBCM and First Nations Emergency Services Society to reduce wildfire risk through FireSmart grants and supports, with $185 million committed to date.

The UBCM, in partnership with First Nations Emergency Services Society, administers the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports (FCFS) program for communities. More than 750 applications have been received since 2019, leading to more than 350 completed projects.

Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC)

The Province partners with FESBC to reduce wildfire risks, enhance wildlife habitats, improve damaged or low-value forests, and manage greenhouse gases.

Since 2016, $68.4 million has been invested in wildfire risk-reduction projects through FESBC. An additional $60 million was announced for FESBC to continue industry and community focused wildfire risk reduction and fuel management as part of Budget 2024.

Fire Chiefs Association of British Columbia

The Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia is a non-profit organization that serves as an essential source of information, education and community for its members. It proactively engages with the government and standards organizations on issues relating to fire services, resulting in effective and supported fire departments throughout the province.

The Fire Chiefs Association of BC are members of the FireSmart BC Committee and active supporters of the FireSmart Home Partners Program.  

Farmland Advantage

Farmland Advantage helps farmers identify and enhance the natural values on a farm that can be protected, restored and enhanced, and develops recommendations and plans to preserve them.

Since 2021, the BC Wildfire Service has worked with Farmland Advantage on $1,400,000 in wildfire risk-reduction and community-resiliency projects, focusing on strategic areas in the wildland-urban interface.

Columbia Basin Trust 

The Province has supported wildfire prevention alongside the Columbia Basin Trust since 2021.

Initially launched as part of the BC Economic Pandemic Recovery Plan, this program became the Columbia Basin Wildfire Resiliency Initiative in 2022-23 with an investment of $4 million to support expanded wildfire risk reduction in the Columbia Basin. The program is supported by the BC Wildfire Service, the Ministry of Forests’ Regional Operations, and the Columbia Basin Trust. To date, this initiative has supported 20 projects in 18 communities.  

British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association 

The Province partners with the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association to support beef cattle producers. Since 2021, $300,000 has been provided in grant funding to build and expand on an existing Initiative that develops, pilots and tests new models of targeted livestock grazing as a supplemental tool for managing fine fuels in B.C.’s forested rangelands. 

B.C. Community Forest Association   

BC Wildfire Service has taken action alongside the B.C. Community Forest Association (BCCFA) to reduce wildfire risk in community forests.

BCCFA is a non-profit society that serves as the voice and advocate of community forests in B.C. BCCFA represents more than 100 rural and Indigenous communities throughout the province. 

Since 2020, more than $5 million has been provided to BCCFA to treat land in community forests located near rural communities.

Woodlot Development Council (Woodlots BC)    

Woodlots BC represents approximately 841 woodlot licensees in B.C. and supports research and extension programs for the development and enhancement of the woodlot industry in the province.  

This year, the BC Wildfire Service is taking action with Woodlots BC to provide $600,000 for wildfire risk reduction within the wildland-urban interface on woodlot tenures, and to support planning and site assessments, such as fuel management prescription development, and research. 

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