Work is under way to enhance forest resilience to protect against impacts of wildfire and climate change in British Columbia's western Kootenay-Boundary region; project is one of 22 to share Forest Enhancement Society of BC/provincial funding of C$25M

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GRAND FORKS, British Columbia , September 1, 2022 (press release) –

Work is underway to enhance forest resilience to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in the western Kootenay-Boundary region. 

Through a provincial investment of $25 million, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has funded 22 new community projects, including one in the western Kootenay-Boundary region. 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.”

This $1,137,375 wildfire-mitigation project is for the West Boundary Community Forest for treatment to reduce wildfire risk. The communities of Midway, Grand Forks, Rock Creek and Westbridge will be affected positively by this work.

“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.

“The funding from FESBC will be used for five projects within our community forest: two addressing forest-fuel buildup using both mechanical and hand treatments; two will treat forest stands after they’ve been harvested to prevent catastrophic wildfires; and one will create a safer evacuation route for locals and those visiting our community forest,” said Dan Macmaster, community forest manager, West Boundary Community Forest. “If not for the funding from FESBC, we would not be able to move as quickly as we need to in order to proactively do this important work to minimize the wildfire risk to communities, critical transportation corridors and valuable infrastructure people in rural communities rely on.”

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.

“Sustainable forest practices protect biodiversity and promote climate resiliency, support sustainable good employment in our communities and are vital for protecting our communities from floods and wildfires,” said Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “The West Boundary Community Forest has won provincial awards based on its ability to focus on local ecological conservation, recreational opportunities and forest education, in addition to economic returns to the communities. This project will help further those goals and reduce future wildfire risk.”

FESBC is a Crown agency established in 2016 to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires and mitigating wildfire impacts, improving damaged or low-value forests, improving wildlife habitat, supporting the use of fibre from damaged or low-value forests, and treating forests to improve the management of greenhouse gases.

 

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