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Province funds 6 wildfire mitigation projects in Kootenays

Funds will go to forest initiatives in Kaslo, Harrop-Procter, Creston, and the Slocan Valley
A community forest in the Slocan Valley is among six groups in the Kootenays receiving funds for wildfire mitigation. File photo

The B.C. provincial government is funding seven projects in the Kootenay-Boundary region to reduce wildfire risk, according to a news release from the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC).

In addition, the work is intended to enhance wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning, and support forest recreation and ecological resilience.

The funded projects are:

• Harrop-Procter Community Co-operative: $223,125 for 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 for 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 for manual thinning and pruning treatment to reduce fuel loading in a well-used recreation area close to Kaslo.

• Kaslo and District Community Forest Society: $41,520 for planning for an area that has been identified as a fuel break in a landscape-level wildfire plan.

• Creston Valley Forest Corporation: $1,249,825 to develop plans and treat areas within community watersheds in and around the town of Creston.

• Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative: $500,000 to complete treatments on areas identified as high priority in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This work will build on recently completed projects.

Work has already begun, and all projects are expected to be complete by March 2024.

“The FESBC 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.”

These seven projects are part of a larger funding of $25 million for 22 new projects across the province.

“Support through this grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC is of utmost importance for the Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative to meet our goals of implementing wildfire reduction work,” said Stephan Martineau, manager and founding director.

“We are committed to this work and have invested our own funds, but this solid support from FESBC makes all the difference. The ongoing support from FESBC and the Selkirk Resource District is vital and team effort showing how a region can approach, at a landscape level, climate change adaptation and wildfire preparedness.”

The BCFES news release states that 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.