This release is also available in French.
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. -- Speaking on behalf of the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, Dick Harris, Member of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George, today announced that Canada's New Government's Mountain Pine Beetle Program will deliver more than $2.8 million to help communities, including First Nations, deal with public safety issues resulting from the unprecedented beetle infestation in British Columbia.
"British Columbians know how wildfire can devastate communities, and there's no question the beetle has added fuel for potential fires. Dead and dying trees pose other risks as well," said M.Harris. "Helping communities and First Nations reduce the risk to public safety presented by beetle-killed timber is a major objective of the Mountain Pine Beetle Program."
Of the funding announced today, $1.06 million will go toward assisting communities in beetle-affected areas with the cost of completing wildfire protection plans and implementing operations to reduce forest fuel loads in order to manage the wildfire risk. The program will be delivered in collaboration with the Union of B.C. Municipalities' Strategic Wildfire Protection Program.
"New federal funding for managing wildfire risk is good news for communities in B.C.," said UBCM President Brenda Binnie. "Today's announcement will make communities in pine beetle-infested areas safer and better prepared."
First Nations communities on federal forestlands in areas hit by the infestation will also receive financial assistance to support wildfire risk assessment and forest fuel management. Canada's New Government will provide a total of $1.06 million to First Nations bands and tribal councils for these projects. This program will complement the work being done through the First Nations Forestry Council and the First Nations Emergency Services Society.
A further investment of $685,000 in community safety will help cover the cost of removing dead or dying trees that pose a safety hazard on municipal property within beetle-affected areas.
Canada's New Government launched the Mountain Pine Beetle Program in January 2007, pledging a total of $200 million to support a comprehensive response to the infestation and its consequences, including protecting forest resources and communities.
Funds for these community safety projects were included in a $39.6-million allocation from the program detailed on June 8, 2007. Funding for a second year of community safety projects will be based on a review of program results, area of impact and advice from the Canada-B.C. Mountain Pine Beetle Advisory Board.
More information on the program, as well as access to guidelines and application forms for project funding, is available on the Mountain Pine Beetle Program Web site at http://mpb.
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Canada's New Government's Mountain Pine Beetle Program will deliver more than $2.8 million this year to help B.C. communities, including First Nations, deal with public safety issues resulting from the beetle infestation. Dead and dying trees can provide fuel for wildfire and pose other public safety risks as well.
Media may contact:
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada
The general public may contact:
Mon-Fri, 8:30-4:30 EDT
(teletype for the hearing-impaired)
NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media.