Firefighter lights a back-burn to interrupt the spread of a B.C. forest fire. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

B.C. works to prepare for future wildfire, flood seasons

Stepping up prescribed burns is part of the provincial strategy

The B.C. forests ministry is stepping up efforts to use prescribed burning to reduce spring floods and wildfire risks, and help the landscape recover from two consecutive years of record fire damage.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson released the province’s wildfire and flood action plan Wednesday, outlining its progress on more than 100 recommendations from a review of the devastating 2017 wildfire season. The summer of 2018 saw even more area burned, but fewer evacuations of communities.

RELATED: Experts call for First Nations partnerships, fuel management

Spring flooding in 2017 resulted in the evacuation of 2,500 people, many in the Okanagan. That was followed by a dry lightning storm that sparked 190 wildfires in 48 hours, mostly in the Cariboo region.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is “initiating a multi-year prescribed and managed wildfire project” that aims to increase training and capacity to handle prescribed burns, the report says.

“We’ve had some around Williams Lake this year already,” Donaldson said. “We’re working with first nations to incorporate their local knowledge into prescribed burns, because they used that technique for millennia to improve habitat around their communities.”

Donaldson said work has already begun on prescribed burns, and changes to open burning legislation are being considered.

“Part of looking at and amending the act is to make sure that people know that smoke will be in their communities more often, but at least in a planned way,” he said. “It might not be a huge change. A lot of it is public education as well.”

The 2018 wildfire season saw more than 13,000 square kilometres burned, displacing thousands of people and pushing the province’s firefighting and flood response costs $400 million.

In 2017, the area burned was slightly lower, but more than 65,000 people were evacuated during the longest state of emergency in B.C. history, and the combined wildfire and flood response cost was nearly $650 million.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Family uprooted by suspicious fire grateful for support

Salmon Arm man thankful treasured artwork, family photos undamaged

Olympic rower challenging diabetics to live life to the fullest

Chris Jarvis of I Challenge Diabetes will visit Salmon Arm schools May 15

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Another day of sunny skies

Continued sun forcasted by Environement Canada

A bowler hat and rock-n-roll: Lucky Monkey is not your average primate

Kelowna’s Lucky Monkey prepares to release sophomore album

Father, former child soldier, seeks better life for family in Shuswap

Salmon Arm volunteers begin fundraising effort to help family resettle in Canada

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Small landslide closes Vernon road

City crews estimate Okanagan Bench Row Road will reopen at about 2:30 a.m.

Okanagan College class looks to disrupt fatphobia with art

The class installed art installations around Okanagan College to break down stigma

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

Summerland golf courses to open soon

Two courses expected to begin golf season in coming days

Kelowna RCMP tackle man in Glenmore area

A witness saw RCMP make an arrest on Valley Road just after 6 p.m.

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Give a hoot and don’t touch baby birds

SORCO raptor rehab reminds residents to stop before they touch baby bird

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Most Read