The Columbia Basin Trust recently announced funding of 16 projects to assist in wildfire prevention throughout the Basin.
In addition to reducing wildfire risks the $1.7 million will provide over 200 jobs in 14 communities.
The funding comes from the Columbia Basin Economic Recovery Initiative, which is part of the Province of BC’s Crown Land Wildfire Risk Reduction program. The initiative is a partnership between the Province’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; its BC Wildfire Service; and Columbia Basin Trust, which is administering it.
“Our government’s financial support for wildfire risk reduction projects in the Columbia Basin will help mitigate future wildfire threats,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “We appreciate Columbia Basin Trust’s assistance in distributing these grants and helping communities protect themselves against wildfires.”
Projects supported through this program will teach people how to prevent wildfires and lessen their effects, managing vegetation/fuel load in fire-prone areas, support the development of community emergency plans using FireSmart principles, and create jobs and provide training and skills development related to wildfire risk reduction. Funding recipients include local governments, First Nations, non-profits, fire departments and post-secondary institutions.
“First and foremost, this program focuses on improving the safety and security of Basin communities, while also creating employment and training opportunities for residents,” said Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “We are pleased to partner with the Province of BC and look forward to seeing these projects improve community wildfire resiliency during the summer and in the coming months.”
Projects include creating “shaded fuel breaks” in two areas near the community: on 4.2 hectares near St. Margaret’s Cemetery and 1.6 hectares near Mount Fernie Provincial Park. Eight people will plan and do this work, which includes removing fuel from the forest floor and removing shorter trees. Through these actions, the taller trees that remain will have less chance of catching fire should a wildfire sweep through.
Kasha is receiving $69,000 for training. Up to four people will boost their wildfire-related skills by taking courses like Basic Fire Suppression & Safety and Occupational First Aid Level 1, supported by eight trainers and a crew boss. The team will then put its skills to use while reducing wildfire risk on three hectares in the Kaslo Community Forest—a manual treatment that will include thinning dense understorey trees and removing surface fuel. The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation Trails Society will get $79,000 to treat wildfire fuel build up along several trails.
Selkirk College in Castlegar will receive $156,000 for fuel treatment at the Skattebo Education Forest.
Cranbrook is receiving $150,000 through the Regional District of East Kootenay for two new Interface Fire Prevention Officer positions to support and deliver the FireSmart Canada Neighbourhood Recognition Program.
Wildsight Kimberley Cranbrook will receive $150,000 to collect data that will inform ongoing wildfire risk management and employ local youth in the Youth Climate Corps Program.
The Tobacco Plains Indian Band Yaq’it ?a-knuqli’it, will receive $150,000 to address fire protection concerns by crating leadership positions to provide fire response service to both the Band and Grasmere and recruiting volunteers from both communities.