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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2009FOR0067-000429

October 1, 2009

Ministry of Forests and Range
Union of British Columbia Municipalities

 

 

B.C. ACCELERATES COMPLETION OF INTERFACE FIRE PLANS

 

VANCOUVER – The Province will provide an additional 16 Wildfire Management Branch staff to accelerate the completion of Community Wildfire Protection Plans and further reduce the risk of interface fires, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention today.

 

            “We know this kind of planning works,” said Bell. “The fact we only lost seven structures this summer, under conditions that rivalled Firestorm 2003, is a testament to the effectiveness of removing hazardous debris from interface areas.”

 

            Under the Accelerated Community Wildfire Protection Initiative, 16 Wildfire Management Branch staff will be dedicated to helping communities complete Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP). They will provide expertise in fuel management within interface zones and support communities in developing specific mitigation projects.

 

            The Province launched the Community Wildfire Protection Plan program in 2004 by providing $37 million to local governments, through the UBCM, to help pay for interface fire preparation. The funds cover the partial costs of preparing CWPPs and conducting on-the-ground fuel management projects. To date, $ 14.5 million remains available to communities.

 

            In response to requests from local governments and as recommended by the Provincial Fuels Management Working Group, the UBCM is also adjusting the cost-sharing formula for mitigation projects identified under approved CWPPs. The funding ratio will increase from 50/50, to the UBCM fund paying 75 per cent of the cost. Local governments will be responsible for the remaining 25 per cent.

 

“Shifting the funding ratio and reducing costs for local governments will encourage more communities to enter the planning process and take advantage of available funding,” said UBCM president Robert Hobson. “We’re pleased to assist with any initiative aimed at safeguarding communities, infrastructure and people from the threat of interface fires.”

 

Of the 16 additional Wildfire Management Branch staff, seven will report to the province’s fire centres in Prince George, Smithers, Castlegar, Kamloops, Parksville and Williams Lake. Three will be assigned to regional offices, three will provide mapping support, two will support provincial program co-ordination, and one will support post wildfire rehabilitation.

 

 

The 16 staff are in addition to eight Wildfire Management Branch staff currently supporting the fuels reduction program and CWPP preparations, based on recommendations from the 2003 Filmon Review. To date, 84 local governments have completed or are in the process of completing plans.

 

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Contact:

 

Cheekwan Ho

Public Affairs Officer

Ministry of Forests and Range

250 387-8482

Paul Taylor

Relationships & Communications Advisor

Union of B.C. Municipalities

778 331-7605

 

 

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