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.

BC legislaturebcwildfire

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Influx of tourists helping to nurse Penticton’s economy back to health

The city has seen visitors multiply tenfold in recent weeks

Two vehicle crash on Highway 97 in Penticton

The crash happened before 3:30 p.m. in front of the Lakeside Inn and Suites

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Column: One parenting book certainly doesn’t fit all

Like the fingerprints they are born with – each child is different.… Continue reading

Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department receives $25k grant

Money used on a truck with low volume, high pressure water pump to fight wildfires

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Couple shaken up after homophobic encounter at Kelowna mall

‘We’re not in the States; we’re not in some little hick town; we’re in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. And it still happens’

Summerland to allow in-person attendance at July 13 council meetings

Two meetings will be held at Summerland Arena Banquet Room to accommodate public

Fundraiser kicks off for Lake Country families displaced by house fire

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $5K for those who lost everything in early morning blaze

Most Read