BC preps for 2019 wildfire season
By Ellen Cools
As the 2019 wildfire season approaches, British Columbia’s government is preparing with more fire prevention strategies, programs and funding.
“We’ve taken a hard look at additional steps we can take to not only prevent wildfires, but also enhance our response on the ground during wildfire season,” said B.C. Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson in a statement. “Our base budget for wildfire spending has increased by 58 per cent, and we’re accelerating prevention and prevention awareness programs.”
The 58 per cent increase in wildfire management funding boosts the total to $101 million annually. Through the additional funding, the BC Wildfire Service will add more crews, enhance aerial capacity, as well as new technology, and increase spending on fire prevention activities, including a “more comprehensive” prescribed burning program supported by an initial $10 million.
Additionally, new technology, such as night vision googles to improve early detection and response, will be piloted this summer.
Some of the initiatives under this increased wildfire prevention funding include:
An additional $10 million added to the $50 million Community Resiliency Investment program, established last September to help local governments and First Nations reduce local wildfire risks. Results from the first application intake will be announced by the end of this month.
The provincial government has approved an additional $13 million in funding over the next three years under the Forest Carbon Initiative for reforestation and restoration initiatives that capture carbon and reduce wildfire risks. This is on top of $235 million provided to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, of which approximately $180 million has been allocated.