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City of Kelowna chipping wildfire fuels in communities around the city

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A new pilot project in Kelowna kicked off on Tuesday, aimed at mitigating wildfire fuels in neighbourhoods around the city.

The new Kelowna FireSmart Community Chipping pilot program will offer free removal and chipping of specific woody debris: cedar, juniper and mugo pine as well as fir, pine and spruce branches.

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“Our crews will come by and, in advance of their arrival, we are asking that material is cut above the ground, and is placed curbside for chipping,” said Tara Bergeson, City of Kelowna’s urban forester.

“Please check out our website, and it will provide you with all the information you need to take advantage of the program.”

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Some residents are already taking advantage of the program in the first targeted neighbourhood in Glenmore.

Many homes had large piles of wildfire fuels on the edge of their properties, ready to be chipped.

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But only specific materials can be put out for chipping.

“The materials eligible for the program is anything that FireSmart has deemed hazardous,” said Bergeson. “That’s cedar hedges, juniper shrubs, mugo pine shrubs and the pruning, so really targeting the gap between ground fuel and trees’ canopy.”

The community chipping program is funded through the Union of B.C. Municipalities and is part of the City of Kelowna’s year-round commitment to reducing the risk of wildfires.

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The city says there’s potential for this program to expand to other parts of Kelowna in the coming years if the pilot program proves successful.

Global News spoke with some Kelowna residents who are participating in the project.

While they declined to be interviewed, they did say they are happy the project has arrived, noting it is something that has been asked for, for quite some time.

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