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County and City applying for FireSmart grants

September 7, 2023

By: Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative

The City of Grande Prairie and the County of Grande Prairie are applying for grants that will expand wildfire safety strategies.

The city is applying for two grants, and the county is applying for one, through the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA).

“One of those grants will be for vegetation management to clean up some of our hazardous areas, and the second application is for a Firesmart public education grant,” said Dan Lemieux, city chief public and protective services officer.

The city’s two applications for $200,000 include one for vegetation management in the Bear Creek Corridor and another to provide public education on the FireSmart program, including a FireSmart home assessment initiative.

City Mayor Jackie Clayton asked if the county and city could collaborate on an application, but FRIAA requires each municipality to apply on their own behalf, said Lemieux. 

A view of the Spring Creek area where the Dunes West Wildfire hit in the County of Grande Prairie on Friday, May 12, 2023. (File photo by Jesse Boily)

County application

The county is applying for a $50,000 grant to help fund a review and update of the Wildfire Mitigation Strategy. 

The county strategy was first implemented in 2015 and is used to identify areas in the county that are considered vulnerable or at risk in a wildfire situation.

“This grant application will enable the county to work with a forestry consultant to conduct a thorough assessment of hazards and re-engage stakeholders, including the Alberta Forestry and Parks wildfire operations, First Nations, fire services for both the county and City of Grande Prairie,” reads a county report. 

The county’s 2015 strategy focuses on fuel reduction on public lands and mitigation measures for private lands.

Ten high-risk areas were identified in the 2015 strategy, along with 74 recommendations for wildfire mitigation across the county. 

“Two of the 10 areas identified have had fuel reduction work completed, and work is underway in priority area 3, Hwy. 40 West,” says a report given to county council Aug. 28. 

Areas of priority included in the 2015 strategy are the Riverview Pines Subdivision (priority area 6), and areas west of Hwy. 40 (priority area 3) which were affected by the Dunes West Wildfire earlier in May. 

The Dune West wildfire resulted in creating fire breaks in the county, while other wildfires threatened the north and west borders. 

A fire break is created where forest once was at the Dunes West Wildfire in the County of Grande Prairie, Alta. on Friday, May 12, 2023. (File photo by Jesse Boily)

It’s recommended by FRIAA that the Wildfire Mitigation Strategy be revisited every 10 years or after a significant wildfire, such as the Dunes West fire.

The county report says work on vegetation management is ongoing west of Hwy 40, and additional information on the work will come to county council on Sept. 11.