In 2004, the government estimated it would cost more than $250 million to clear or thin the 684,727 hectares of wooded area in British Columbia that, if left alone, could dramatically increase the chances or severity of a wildfire. But the ministry of forests and range cautioned the actual area requiring fuel treatments is much lower, while the cost per hectare of those treatments is much higher. That rough estimate, which was obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, represents the ministry's sole attempt since the 2003 firestorm to put a price on what is the costliest part of the province's wildfire prevention activities. But the ministry said today it never intended there would be a need to treat all of that high-risk area.
Instead, local governments were charged with narrowing that number down via plans that identified the amount of fuel treatment required to protect their communities. As we reported last year though, dozens of communities have yet to prepare such protection plans. And the ministry has acknowledged the average cost of fuel treatments is around $5,000 per hectare - much higher than the $500 to $2,000 range used in its rough estimate. To-date, the government has said around 38,000 hectares of at-risk area has been treated.
The following is a complete copy of that document.