Many people in B.C. are not aware of the wildfire risks in Coastal areas and on Vancouver Island.

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development cited the forest fire in Zeballos last year which many people consider a temperate rain forest climate.

He said the wildfire highlighted the fact the risk is not just in the interior.

Donaldson said he is aware some people on the Coast are concerned about the slash piles left behind following logging.

“We are taking a number of initiatives in other areas of the ministry that will help address the amount of wood left behind after logging operations. In the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative that we just launched in January, part of that initiative will be better utilizing and removing residuals from areas that have been logged.”

Donaldson said there is a certain amount of woody debris that has to be left behind for ecological purposes but some of it can be brought out and used economically once it’s handled in a different way.

Donaldson has announced the base budget for wildfire spending has increased by 58 per cent, and prevention and prevention awareness programs are being accelerated.

Donaldson said the BC Wildfire Service and the Office of the Fire Commissioner are working on an expanded structure protection program, which will provide additional resources in rural and wildland-urban interface areas.

He added staff will be given increased access to technology, including tablet computers in the field and drones to assist with fire mapping and infrared scanning.