Cash woes stall wildfire protection at B.C. native reserves

A federal program to fight British Columbia’s unprecedented mountain pine beetle infestation has wrapped up, marking the end of a $400-million commitment that funded everything from brush removal to airport runways.

But projects to reduce the threat of wildfires by clearing brush around remote native communities are far from finished – and are stalling over a lack of money to carry them out, the head of the First Nations Forestry Council says.

Both the B.C. and federal governments have contributed funds to native fuel-management projects, but the bulk of the money has come through Ottawa’s mountain pine beetle program. That program concluded in March after contributing a total of $10.6-million since 2007 to fuel-management programs in native communities.