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

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

Festival of Trees returns to West Kelowna’s Mission Hill Winery

The fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation will run Nov. 23 to Jan. 4

Proportional representation vote continues to draw low numbers

Only 6.5 per cent of eligible voters have cast ballots so far in B.C. referendum

Kelowna Skating Club skaters take home 10 medals and three provincial titles

Ava Sanderson was among the winners of the 2019 B.C and Yukon Sectional Championships

Kelowna to host World Junior pre-tournament game

Team Russia will take on Team Sweden at Prospera Place on Dec. 18

Your weekday weather update

Flurries and more rain anticipated for the Okanagan - Shuswap

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Okanagan pickleball pair win bronze at nationals

Vernon and Kelowna players reach podium in California

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Couple allegedly caught staking out Okanagan home

The man and woman were seen in a black Suzuki Tracker with a white back

Most Read