Just over $1 million from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) will be split across several different projects to help reduce wildfire risk.

The Trust said that the projects given grants are using innovative methods of wildfire mitigation or educating the public. It added that it uses a wildfire advisor to provide advice to communities through the Basin.

“Anyone who’s been in the region in the past few years has witnessed how wildfires can choke the air and put communities in danger,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “With realities of climate change, these risks are increasing, and communities are prioritizing reducing the impacts of wildfires in the Basin.”

The City of Kimberley will receive the largest portion of funding in the East Kootenay, as $154,000 will be used to develop stand treatments for young conifer tree plantations near the city. The project will use prescribed burns and thinning, then assess the effectiveness and viability of the treatment on various plantations.

“In mature stands, thinning and prescribed fire is a commonly accepted strategy; the same strategy can work in young plantations if we target the right species and sizes of trees and are careful with our prescribed burn,” said Robert Gray, Wildland Fire Ecologist, R.W. Gray Consulting Ltd. “The project results will then be disseminated to other resource managers in the Basin so they can apply similar treatments.”

Also in the East Kootenay, The District of Invermere and the RDEK will receive $25,000 for wildfire education. The Trust said that the RDEK will educate residents on how to reduce fire risks on their property, and offer FireSmart workshops. Meanwhile, Invermere will use the grant to hire students to deliver door-to-door FireSmart material, provide home assessments to residents living in medium to high wildfire risk areas and present at public events through the summer.

“Educating property owners about interface fire risk reduction is a priority for the District of Invermere, and FireSmart is a program proven to reduce the risk of losses in neighbourhoods,” said Jenna Milne, Environmental Special Projects Coordinator. “We also believe it’s fundamental to educate and engage with the professionals and retailers who have critical influence over many facets of home and yard conditions that impact the vulnerability or fire resistance of residential properties.”

CBT said the District of Sparwood has also received a grant of $11,923 to fund education programming which will include appointing a volunteer firefighter as the FireSmart ambassador and hire a student to distribute material to raise awareness and deliver programs to property owners. Other initiatives in Sparwood include conducting door-to-door assessments to provide customized FireSmart actions.

A full list of the projects receiving funding from the CBT can be found here.