The Province of B.C. continues to invest in the enhancement forest resiliency to protect against the effects of wildfire and climate change in the Thompson-Okanagan region. Through a $25 million grant awarded to Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.(FESBC), the Province has funded Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation (LNIBDC), for its wildfire mitigation efforts at Steffens Estates. 

FESBC awarded $544,425 LNIBDC to fund their ongoing work at Steffens Estates, a subdivision located north of Lower Nicola Indian Band’s Mameet IR #1, approximately 17 kilometres north of Merritt on Highway 97C.

“For this project, the treatment area is immediately adjacent to numerous rural homes and properties. We believe it’s the logical second phase to the interface harvesting that we completed in the early summer of 2022,” said Don Gossoo, general manager, Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation.

“I am confident this area post-treatment will showcase how interface harvesting and wildfire risk-reduction treatments go hand in hand. We are appreciative to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC and the Province of B.C. for the funding to help us achieve this work.”

Clean up of the forest floor on the treatment area will be based on a Fuel Management Prescription. Possible activities will include pruning, spacing, and clearing of slash. Roughly 70 hectares covers the treatment area in Steffens Estates.

“After last year, I think everyone that lives in and around forested areas are more aware and concerned about the potential of wildfires and the damages it may cause,” said Gossoo.

“The two-part fire mitigation process aims tothin out the crown so fire cannot act in a volatile manner.”

FESBC previously funded wildfire mitigation work by LNIBDC for Lindley Creek and Fox Farm. Roughly $250,000 funded these efforts earlier this year. 

B.C.’s $25 million wildfire mitigation grant has funded eight projects in the Thompson-Okanagan region and 22 new community projects overall. 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.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

Work has already begun, and all projects are expected to be complete by March 2024. Additional applications through the FESBC portal are welcome and will be accepted until the $25-million fund has been allocated.