Urban Forest Fuel Management to be Reviewed
Prince George, B.C.- B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Doug Donaldson will be heading to Ottawa later this month to meet with his federal Minister of Natural Resources, and one of the items on the agenda will be the Federal Wildland Strategy.
That strategy involves Federal government support for Provinces to reduce the risk of urban interface fires.
The wildfires in B.C. this year have destroyed dozens of homes and while structural protection teams have been working hard, the fires are far from out and the season is far from over. “We need to make sure that communities aren’t going to be facing as much risk in the future as we see has happened here” says Donaldson.
Donaldson says the matter of reducing forest fuel to prevent urban interface fires will be fully examined once the current crisis is over “Then we will have time to look at programs as a new government, that can address the fuel load in the urban interface areas around small communities.”
There are already some funding programs available to assist communities in reducing forest fuels, including one made available through the Union of BC Municipalities. “We will be looking at more of those kinds of partnerships” says Donaldson.
The City of Prince George has been taking action to reduce the risk of interface fires since as far back as 1994 and has accessed about $9 million dollars in grants over the years to reduce forest fuels.
Initially, the effort to remove mountain pine beetle killed trees was done with hopes of curbing the infestation. By 2005 a total of 220 logging truck loads of beetle killed pine had been removed although the focus had changed from stopping the spread of the beetle, to reducing the risk of interface wildfires.
Although the City continued efforts to reduce forest fuels, the wake of the Fort McMurray fire of last year, experts did note Prince George was on a list of high risk communities for wildfire damage.
With that in mind, City staff advised council a year ago that it would conduct a review and assessment of the risk in this City . That review was to happen this year, there has been no update on the progress of that review.