Projects underway in B.C. will reduce community wildfire risk, enhance forest health

A previously funded project by FESBC with the City of Quesnel > Dragon Towers.

Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the impacts of wildfire and climate change in British Columbia.

Through a provincial investment of $25 million, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has funded 22 new community projects. This includes work to reduce wildfire risk, while enhancing wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and support 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.”

Wildfire-mitigation projects funded include:

  • Clinton District Community Forest of BC Ltd., $450,870 – Treatment of 300-metre-wide fuel break adjacent to the transmission line west of Clinton. Low-grade fibre will also be recovered.
  • Elhdaqox Developments Ltd., $500,000 – Wildfire risk reduction planning and treatments to reduce the wildfire risk to the Yunesit’in Community and rehabilitate burned and beetle-affected stands that will create local employment opportunities.
  • Eniyud Community Forest Ltd., $1,500,000 – Fuel management treatments to reduce the wildfire risk from forests affected by mountain pine beetle near Horn Lake and along Tatlayoko Lake, which is a vital main access/egress route for the local residences.
  • The City of Quesnel, $529,000 – Prescriptions and treatments will be conducted on specific sites identified for wildfire risk reduction in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Treatments will include thinning, pruning and debris cleanup while promoting fibre removal and utilization
  • Chinook Community Forest, $3,000,000 – Reducing fuel loading in areas heavily impacted by mountain pine beetle, which has created a considerable fire risk to communities on the south side of Francois Lake and near Rose Lake.
  • McLeod Lake Mackenzie Community Forest, $1,401,666 – Wildfire risk-reduction treatments along Highway 39, to create a safer egress corridor on the main road to and from Mackenzie.
  • Harrop-Procter Community Co-operative, $223,125 – Planning and treatment work on priority areas identified in a community wildfire protection plan. When finished, the work will create landscape-level fuel breaks around Harrop and Procter. 
  • Kaslo and District Community Forest Society, $89,980 – Fuel treatments conducted after a harvest will fireproof a stand close to Kaslo. Low-value fibre will be fully used.
  • Kaslo and District Community Forest Society, $98,150 – A manual thinning and pruning treatment will reduce fuel loading in a well-used recreation area close to Kaslo. 
  • Kaslo and District Community Forest Society, $41,520 – Work will be planned for an area that has been identified as a fuel break in a landscape-level wildfire plan.
  • Creston Valley Forest Corporation, $1,249,825 – The goal of the project is to develop plans and treat areas within community watersheds in and around the town of Creston.
  • Shuswap Indian Band, $664,724 – The project includes planning and treatment work in an area north of the Shuswap community. Fibre from the project will be fully used.
  • Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative, $500,000 – This project will focus on completing treatments on areas identified as high priority in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This work will build on recently completed projects.
  • West Boundary Community Forest, $1,137,375 – This funding is for five projects focusing on treatment to reduce wildfire risk including: two addressing forest-fuel buildup using both mechanical and hand treatments; two to treat forest stands after they’ve been harvested to prevent catastrophic wildfires; and one to create a safer evacuation route for locals and those visiting the community forest.
  • Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $60,323 – Wildfire risk reduction treatments on areas identified as priority treatment areas in their Wildfire Fire Risk Management Plan with the goal to enhance wildfire resiliency.
  • Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society, $129,381 – Manual treatments on area identified in its Wildfire Risk Management Plan that will enhance the wildfire resiliency of the community forest.
  • Silver Star Property Owners Association, $474,600 – Completing a combination of hand and mechanical wildfire risk-reduction treatment to reducing the wildfire risk along the main road in and out of SilverStar Mountain Resort.
  • Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation, $544,425 – Complete wildfire risk reduction treatments to reduce the wildfire risk to Steffens Estates subdivision located north of Lower Nicola Indian Band’s Mameet IR #1, approximately 17 kilometres north of Merritt on Highway 97C.
  • Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $746,550 – This project aims to develop prescriptions and treat areas near Logan Lake, creating a large landscape-level fuel break.
  • Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $127,050 – Complete planning and preparation required to complete treatments along a corridor along the Coquihalla Highway, leading to the reduction in risk to the highway, reducing the risk of human-caused ignitions from the highway spreading into surrounding forest.
  • Logan Lake Community Forest Corporation, $105,000 – Complete the planning work required to complete a fuel-reduction treatment to allow for a safer evacuation route for the community at Paska Lake.
  • Vermilion Forks Community Forest, $814,078 – A steep area close to the community of Coalmont will be thinned to create a fuel break.

“FESBC is thrilled that communities will be able to continue this important work to reduce their wildfire risk to better protect their residents and important infrastructure,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC. “These newly funded projects take a proactive approach to reduce the risks of wildfire and many will also improve wildlife habitat, increase the health of forests so they are more resilient to climate change and use the left-over wood waste to make green energy. Achieving multiple objectives is good forest management and good value for money.”

Work has already begun and all projects are expected to be complete by March 2024. To date, approved funding from the FESBC 2022-23 Funding Program totals $14 million. Additional applications through the FESBC portal are welcome and will be accepted until the $25-million fund has been allocated.

Since 2016, FESBC has supported more than 260 projects throughout B.C. Sixty-three of these 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. This will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s expanding forest bioeconomy.

The $25 million provided to FESBC is a component of $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.

“Through provincial investments, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC has funded critical projects to help reduce wildfire risk and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Doug Routley, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests. “Diverting materials away from slash piles not only reduces fire risk but creates new opportunities in our province’s forest economy. These projects accomplish multiple objectives to help communities be more resilient to climate change.”