Quesnel didn’t have the direct danger of forest fire, this year, but nearby communities did.
Much of the province was overcome by wildfires this last summer, including the Nazko area and other areas immediately west of the city, and smoke was certainly an issue, said the City’s forestry initiatives manager Erin Robinson.
The Quesnel & Surrounding Area Community Wildfire Protection Plan has been in operation since 2018 and is working hard to address wildfire risks through fire mitigation. With many forests devastated by the mountain pine beetle and the warming climate, wildfires will only continue to increase without action.
Quesnel’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) has completed 260 hectares of fuel management. Robinson said another 76 hectares are scheduled for this fall and winter.
To date, $3-million has gone toward the plan, with funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC), the Community Resilience Investment (CRI) Program, the Forest Employment Program (FEP) and the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI).
While the FireSmart program has been happening on public land, 60 per cent of land in the Quesnel & Surrounding Area Community Wildfire Protection Plan is private, said Robinson.
“We have the FireSmart program we run that helps educate people, but as far as people rolling up their sleeves and digging in, it’s up to homeowners to do that.”
Funding has been hugely beneficial in fire education and mitigation; however, speed is also a crucial factor.
“The sense of urgency needed during these downtimes needs to be so much more elevated. The province and us work together really well, but urgency and speed need to increase.”
Robinson said we should be mitigating fires rather than responding, and once again reminded homeowners of their role.
“We need owners to make properties defensible to wildfire.”
This can be done with FireSmart landscaping and building choices, for which eligible homeowners can get a $1,000 rebate funded by the CRI. The FireSmart rebate program has been in operation for three years, and homeowners can include the time cost of FireSmarting their homes.
The City’s FireSmart team continues to provide education, this last year setting up information booths at the Home Trade Show, at farmers’ markets, Chemistry Day in the Park, and Indigenous Day.
Homeowners can also download the FireSmart Begins At Home app, which allows you to do a self-conducted home assessment for fire mitigation, giving owners specific steps to reduce wildfires.
For more information, including on the rebate program, contact the City of Quesnel to learn more.