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

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read