Castlegar Fire Department Crews. (courtesy Columbia Basin Trust)

Castlegar Fire Department Crews. (courtesy Columbia Basin Trust)

The City of Castlegar has received a $20,000 Wildfire Mitigation Grant from the Columbia Basin Trust

The City of Castlegar has received a $20,000 Wildfire Mitigation Grant from Columbia Basin Trust.

The City of Castlegar has received a $20,000 Wildfire Mitigation Grant from the Columbia Basin Trust.

“Basin communities are part of forested landscapes, which gives us beautiful scenery and rich ecological values but also hazards to communities such as wildfire,” said Tim Hicks, Columbia Basin Trust Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits. “Communities are well aware of this risk and came to us for help to both prepare for the possibility of these dangerous situations and to reduce their likelihood. This work aligns with our priority to support community resilience in a changing climate.”

The city will use the money for FireSmart assessments and fuel mitigation.

According to the grant announcement: “The City of Castlegar is taking a collaborative approach to reducing the risk of wildfire within the community by working with students from Selkirk College’s Forestry Technology program. Students will conduct FireSmart assessments for private property owners, plus help reduce wildfire fuels on high-risk municipal lands by creating prescriptions and carrying out fuel reduction activities.”

Through these efforts, “members of the public will learn the benefits of fire smarting their private properties,” said Lawrence Chernoff, Mayor of Castlegar. “By protecting private assets and the assets of the community, this project will reduce the risk of mass disasters and increase public safety.”

The students will be going door to door in neighbourhoods that have been noted as areas of concern by the Castlegar Fire Department and offering to do FireSmart assessments.

One of those areas is the South Castlegar neighbourhood between 24th Street and Southridge Drive.

Castlegar fire chief Sam Lattanzio explained that the area has a lot of large lots with wooded areas.

“There is a lot of private property in there that is still fairly raw land,” explained Lattanzio.

“Private property owners can do something to mitigate wildfire issues and concerns.”

The students will also do some work on public land including the forested area between the Kinnaird Park ball fields. They will practice creating prescriptions — basically a recommendation of what should happen to reduce wildfire risks. They will also identify and remove problem trees under a certain size and clear brush.

“Basically it a place where they [the students] can showcase to private property owners what can be done on their own land,” said Lattanzio.

“The partnership with Selkirk College — I see it as a win-win for both them and us,” said Lattanzio.

The project will start in April.