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October 27, 2017 4:00 pm

Urban Forest Fuel Management to be Reviewed

Monday, August 14, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

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.



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