The Province has released its action plan in response to the government-commissioned, independent Abbott Chapman report on the unprecedented 2017 wildfire and flood seasons in BC.
Minister of Forest Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development, Doug Donaldson says that work is complete or underway on 85% of the 108 recommendations.
He says they’re very happy that staff has made a great effort and that it made a difference in this year’s fire season.
“We brought crews on earlier for instance. We had much better information sharing protocols and a use of social media, we brought on more type two contract crews to help fight the fires so many of those were part of the recommendations,” Donaldson says.
“As far as prevention goes for next year’s events we’ve instituted a community resilience investment program that’s going to go a long way to help communities protect and make their communities fire safe.”
Donaldson says that that program was announced at UBCM and is 100 percent funded versus the previous government’s program where municipalities and communities had to contribute themselves.
“One of the main issues that arose when we were witnessing what happened in 2017 and 2018 was the fact that there was a lot of forest debris that was in the forest and created a lot of fuel management issues,” he adds.
“That was something that was pointed in 2003 in the Filmon report and wasn’t acted on in a really concerted way so that’s why we’ve put place this new community resilience investment program that is a really innovative program and allows communities to really take control of addressing that fuel management within their municipal boundaries.”
“We’ve also looked at the areas outside of municipal boundaries because of course that’s where wildfire interface happens with communities, and we have the Forest Enhancement Society BC and we’ve been able to secure $235 million in funding for that.”
Progress updates on the action plan will be released biannually over the next two years, and an update is scheduled to be issued April 30, 2019.
According to an information bulletin:
- In 2018, more than 1.3 million hectares burned during the wildfire season – the largest number on record – forcing thousands of B.C. residents from their homes. A provincial state of emergency was in place from Aug. 15 to Sept. 7. The total estimated cost of 2018 wildfire and flood response is more than $400 million.
- In 2017, 1.2 million hectares burned, displacing more than 65,000 residents during the longest state of emergency in B.C.’s history. The total cost of wildfire and flood response in 2017 was close to $650 million. Before the 2017 wildfire season, the most-recent declared state of emergency was issued in August 2003 in response to wildfires.