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VIDEO: Cyclist pedals through fire and flames to raise money on Western Canada trek

Alex Simakov has seen firsthand the effects of climate change on Western Canada

An energy consultant raising funds for the Nature Conservancy of Canada made a stop in Kelowna on his bike ride across Western Canada.

He said his goal for the 1,400-kilometre trip is to show people how important it is to take care of our natural ecosystems, especially as climate change continues to take a toll on wildlife, forests and wetlands.

“We’ve been here for a couple hundred years now and that’s left a bit of an impact on the natural flora and fauna,” he said.

“While that in itself is a bit of a challenge, it’s going to be particularly problematic as the impacts of climate change intensify. We need to make sure that the health of our forests, wetlands and prairies are in the best shape they can be to make sure that we can withstand the droughts, floods and forest fires we’re experiencing now and will continue to experience.”

Simakov said he used to come to the Okanagan on road trips with his family when he was younger, saying he remembered seeing stars clearly throughout the summer.

Now, with wildfires raging and smoke blanketing the valley, he couldn’t see the stars that made an impression on him as a boy.

“It’s been particularly difficult… it’s harder to breathe and it stings your eyes, so I have to wear my glasses for every moment I’m riding or they blur up,” he said.

“You also pass these burned-out charred landscapes and it tugs at you in a way that hearing the news or seeing videos doesn’t. I also expected to see more wildlife… but I haven’t seen much beyond a deer and a few crows. Some of these ecosystems have lost their vitality and I just think we need to take proactive, prudent measures now to start reversing this and restore the vitality.”

He said he has also had a chance to connect with people throughout his ride, sharing with them what he has seen firsthand with wildfire-ravaged areas but he has also had a chance to learn more about what is being done by non-profits like the Nature Conservancy of Canada to preserve and restore wildlands.

“I’m really hoping to apply these firsthand experiences of what I’ve seen on the ground here to better inform myself, my colleagues and my industry to make sure we’re more cognizant of the impact we can have, both negatively and positively,” he said.

To donate to Simakov’s Nature Conservancy fundraiser, you can do so here.

READ MORE: In 2021, wildfires in B.C. have burned more land than all of P.E.I.

READ MORE: White Rock Lake wildfire orders ease but concern could rise along with the temperature


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Twila Amato

About the Author: Twila Amato

Twila was a radio reporter based in northern Vancouver Island. She won the Jack Webster Student Journalism Award while at BCIT and received a degree in ancient and modern Greek history from McGill University.
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