Communities in Alberta will have access to $800,000 in funding this fiscal year for wildfire protection projects through the FireSmart Community Grant Program, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry announced last week.
Municipalities, municipal districts, counties, Métis Settlements and registered non-profit societies located within the Forest Protection Area of Alberta are eligible to apply for FireSmart grants to a maximum of $100,000 per community, the ministry said in a recent statement. Among other communities, the area covers Rainbow Lake, High Level, Fort McMurray, Peace River, Slave Lake, Lac La Biche, Swan Lakes, Whitecourt, Edson, Hinton, Rocky Mountain House, Canmore and Blairmore.
The funding can be used to support fire preparedness planning, public education, and on-the-ground fire mitigation projects, like creating buffers between buildings and forest vegetation. Over the past 10 years, the FireSmart Community Program has provided approximately $5.8 million to 129 different communities in Alberta.
“This year’s busy wildfire season was a strong reminder of the importance of proactive emergency planning and risk reduction strategies,” Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Oneil Carlier, said in the statement.
Applications are being accepted until Oct. 23.
On Friday, Steve Thomson, British Columbia’s Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, announced that his ministry is working with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to introduce the 2016 FireSmart Grant Program. Under the program, fifty grants of up to $10,000 each will be made available to local governments and First Nations to help communities identify and reduce wildfire risks on private land.
British Columbia has provided over $67 million to help local governments and First Nations reduce wildfire risks around their communities since introducing the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative in 2004, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said in a press release on Friday. To date, 286 communities have completed community wildfire protection plans and fuel build-up on over 78,000 hectares of land has been reduced.