Fuel mitigation funded

An application for grant funding made by Burns Lake's fuel management committee has paid off.

An application for grant funding made by Burns Lake’s fuel management committee has paid off.

As reported in the Lakes District News edition of June 15, 2011, the committee was formed earlier this year, when UBCM announced that wildfire mitigation funding would be available to communities with an existing wildfire protection plan.

According to Kaleigh Milinazzo, Village of Burns Lake’s corporate development services intern, the committee was initiated by discussions between mayor Bernice Magee and the Nadina Wildfire Protection Branch.

“There was a desire to continue implementation of the community wildfire protection plan,” she said.

Representatives from the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, the Village of Burns Lake, Hampton Affiliates, Burns Lake Community Forest and a number of local community members form the committee.

The Village of Burns Lake has now received more than $129,000 in grant funding from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative funding program.

The initiative is a provincial funding program that is administered by UBCM and managed through the provincial fuel management working group. It aims to support communities that are working to mitigate their risk from wildfire.

The grant funding will be used to treat forest fuels covering 44.3 hectares in the Eagle Creek area. This area was identified as a high priority in the community wildfire protection plan that was developed in 2008.

Earlier this year, concerns about the potential of a wildfire disaster in Burns Lake, similar to the devastation in Slave Lake, Alberta, was raised by visiting independent forester Bruce Blackwell.

As reported in the Lakes District News edition of May 25, 2011, Blackwell said the local community is surrounded by an increasing wildfire hazard, caused by large amounts of dead pine being left in the forest.

Cliff Manning, forest protection technician for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Wildfire Management branch, who heads up the fuel management committee, said Blackwell’s comments reinforced what the committee already knew.

The devastation caused to local forests by the mountain pine beetle has left behind an increasing fuel load and created a heightened wildfire risk in the local area.

A variety of treatment activities will be undertaken including the removal of mountain pine beetle killed trees, dead and down ground fuel removal, pruning of ladder fuels and burning of debris piles.

Once the work is complete, the wildfire risk in the area will be significantly lowered.

The tender package for the first component of the project will be available at the Village of Burns Lake office and on the village website beginning Sept. 14, 2011, at 8 a.m. Complete bids must be received by Sept. 26, 2011.

The total project amount is $149,999.80, with in kind contributions of $20,832.45 already donated by Hampton Affiliates, Burns Lake Community Forest, the Village of Burns Lake, and various community members.

“With a comprehension of our community’s wildfire risk, we are pleased to see fuel mitigation work going forward. It is an important step toward ensuring the safety of our community for local residents, and the sustainability of our timber supply,” stated mayor Bernice Magee.

In 2008, fuel mitigation work was also conducted behind the Wanakena Motel and Saul Creek areas.

This fuel mitigation work was funded by two grants of $100,000 from the Natural Resources Canada Mountain Pine Beetle Program. Further treatment was also carried out during the spring of 2009 under a provincial Job Opportunities Grant under the leadership of Burns Lake Community Forest.