District applying for fuel management funding

Cutting down, burning dead trees in community forest reduces wildfire hazard

The District of 100 Mile House will apply for funding to perform fuel management work in its community forest near Lone Butte.

District Councillor Bill Hadden and staff recently met with forestry consultant Bruce Morrow and Ministry of Forests, lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) staff to consider fuel management initiatives within the 100 Mile Community Forest (OMCF).

“Last year, we learned there is funding available to do work outside of the District boundaries but within our [OMCF] area,” says Hadden.

“That was something we didn’t previously know we could do.”

The funding application will target about 40 hectares close to Lone Butte and Horse Lake, an area designated as an extreme hazard in the event of wildfire.

The District previously received approval for a grant to develop a prescription for a fuel management program along Inman Road in Lone Butte.

Now, it can apply for up to $400,000 in funding for parts of the community forest located outside of its current prescriptions and District fire protection boundaries.

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) had done some work under its own prescriptions, but this potential funding would allow it to move in and clear out more dead wood from the area.

Hadden says it would support its manual fuel reduction work, which involves crews going in with chainsaws, cutting and stacking all the dead wood and then burning the piles when it is safe to do so.

“Some of the stuff is tied up [in the trees], some of it is still standing; we are doing mixed stands.”

While this area falls within the CRD boundaries, it can only apply for $600,000 in similar grants for its entire region, so this could be a significant amount to boost its mutual fire prevention efforts, he adds.

Hadden explains it is all part of a joint project between the District, the CRD and the various local fire departments. The initiative began in 2007 with a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

This non-prescription funding is based on a 90 per cent cost share, but the District’s 10 per cent share may be “in-kind”, while prescription funding is a 75/25 split, including in-kind.

“I don’t know yet what the costs will be; obviously, it is bid work.”

Wildfire Management Branch crews are utilized when they are not busy fighting fires, which also keeps them working and in physical shape for firefighting, he notes.

“We’ve got suppression projects ongoing on right now in the Imperial Ranchettes, where the Initial Attack crews go up there and they’re taking out the hazard trees, and they pile them up and ‘hand’ burn them.”

The point is to protect area residences and structures, regardless of which local boundaries they fall within.

“This is tied in with the FireSmart program we’ve got going.

“When you go through and do a FireSmart treatment on your private land – and lots of people do it – it gives a bit of a fire break, and that speaks volumes when you have a fire going through.”

This includes taking down dead trees and clearing shrubs and trees away from homes, among other activities.

More information on FireSmart is online at www.bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/firesmart.htm.