South Okanagan communities warming up to idea of wildfire prevention | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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South Okanagan communities warming up to idea of wildfire prevention

FILE PHOTO - RCMP evacuate Kaleden residents as a wildfire burns in the community on July 4, 2017. Some South Okanagan communities have expressed an interest in the provincial Firesmart program.
July 24, 2017 - 2:35 PM

PENTICTON - Regional District communities hit by recent wildfires are showing interest in the provincial Firesmart program.

Area D director Tom Siddon told the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board on July 20 a community group in Kaleden was interested in applying for a wildfire prevention grant following a wildfire in that community earlier this month.

Community services manager Mark Woods called the provincial Firesmart program a “very good program,” noting it was created so communities could fireproof private land while the Regional District focused on Crown lands.

He said the Regional District would facilitate the group’s applications for a $10,000 fireproofing grant, as well as making the district’s professional forester contractor available to the community.

“Any community interested should reach out to us, we’ll work with them to get grants,” Woods said, noting the community of Faulder had just begun a Firesmart program.

Calling it a “good first step” West Bench director Michael Brydon also called the program “far short of adequate.”

Brydon said some thinning of trees on Penticton Indian Band land and around the West Bench reservoir helped prevent a wildfire that broke out in that community earlier this month from “running and taking 80 homes with it.”

He urged directors to push for wildfire funding at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

“It just takes a walk in our interface areas to see we’re so far short of adequate - we can’t rely on neighbourhood groups to solve this problem,” Brydon said.

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