Twenty communities and organizations around the Columbia Basin are increasing their capacity to prepare for and reduce the chances a wildfire will occur, spread and cause damage. To do so, they’re receiving $2.5 million through a partnership between the Province of British Columbia and Columbia Basin Trust.

Tailored specifically to the Basin, this program is one aspect of the Province of BC’s Community Resiliency Investment Program. Partners include the Province’s Ministry of Forests, BC Wildfire Service and Columbia Basin Trust, which is administering the funding.

“Wildfire-resilient communities are built through partnerships and people working together to protect our forests and surrounding communities,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “These wildfire risk reduction projects are a valuable part of healthy, sustainable forest management in BC. Thank you to Columbia Basin Trust and the 20 communities and organizations around the Basin that are doing this important work.”

“The Community Resiliency Program and the Province of BC have partnered with Columbia Basin Trust to invest $2.5 million to help communities and organizations across the Basin prepare for and reduce the chance of wildfire,” said Minister Katrine Conroy, Minister Responsible for Columbia Basin Trust. “Appledale Hall is a great example of this partnership in action. The hall is being renovated into a resiliency centre and will also be used to provide demonstrations of FireSmart principles, so homeowners can see how to make their own homes more resilient to wildfire. Our work together will help Basin residents protect themselves and their communities.”

“The best way to fight wildfire is to do the necessary work well in advance, and we thank the Province of BC for continuing to collaborate with us to help projects like these take place,” said Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “We also thank the people and groups that are undertaking such vital activities to protect Basin communities as we face the impacts of climate change.”

The program supports a range of projects. For example, actions may include hiring a FireSmart coordinator, developing plans to do prescribed burns, carrying out innovative fuel management activities or providing training on how to do FireSmart assessments.

To learn more about the program or view the list of recently approved projects, click here.

Here are a few of the projects:

Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative is demonstrating FireSmart principles at the Appledale Hall

Educating the public in Appledale
In the Slocan Valley, Appledale Hall is being renovated into a resiliency centre, where people can find refuge in times of need. The Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative (SIFCo) is also using it to provide a demonstration of FireSmart principles, so that homeowners can see how to make their own homes more resilient to wildfire. This will involve activities like treating the land around the hall to reduce the risk of wildfire and explaining FireSmart concepts to the public.

“One of the aims of the resiliency centre is to create a safe location during emergencies that the local population can access, but also a place where FireSmart education will take place,” said Stephan Martineau, SIFCo Manager. “It will become an educational location for all things resiliency-related, and the land around the building itself will be treated to be an example of resiliency in action.”

Columbia Shuswap Regional District is adding staff in Golden and Revelstoke

Spreading the word around Golden and Revelstoke
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District has already done impressive work when it comes to reducing the risk of wildfire, including performing hundreds of FireSmart Home Assessments. Now it is bumping up its efforts even more in and around Golden and Revelstoke by hiring a Wildfire Mitigation Specialist and local FireSmart Representatives.

“The communities within these areas are more remote, which makes it challenging to reach all residents with FireSmart and wildfire risk reduction messages,” said Darcy Mooney, Manager, Operations Management. “Having dedicated, local staff completing a wide range of tasks will help develop more community FireSmart champions in these locations and will grow wildfire risk reduction activities over time.”

Kragmont Community Society is reducing the risk of wildfire near Kragmont and Baynes Lake

Boosting safety near Kragmont
The stretch of fir and pine forest between the community of Kragmont and Lake Koocanusa is a lovely place to walk a dog and access the lake. But if wildfire ever hit it, nearby homes and communities would be in jeopardy. The Kragmont Community Society is reducing the risk by undertaking activities like thinning the understory, pruning trees and removing ground fuels.

“This is a small community with cohesive members who have a strong desire to plan for wildfire resiliency,” said Kymme Paul, Director. “These fuel management activities will reduce the risk of wildfire that could spread through Kragmont and Baynes Lake, plus will build community support for future wildfire prevention initiatives.”

The program builds on a previous partnership between the Trust and the Province, which aimed to help Basin communities build wildfire resiliency while recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic. Through it, 29 projects in the Basin received $3.1 million and created 293 jobs.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. The Trust is also writing a new Columbia Basin Management Plan. Learn how to join the conversation and help shape the future of this region at ourtrust.org/future or call 1.800.505.8998.

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