Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Impact of Pine beetles on First Nations way of life

I just read an interesting article in the Nelson Daily News yesterday about the impact the mountain pine beetle is having on the traditional way of living of First Nations in BC.

The impacts to forests, culturally modified trees, wildlife patterns, archeological sites, hunting, and vegetation are significant to First Nations traditional use of the land.

The safety of more than 100 bands is threatened by fire because the dry, red trees surround their communities, aboriginal leaders say.

Animals that natives have hunted for generations no longer take the same paths and berries and medicinal herbs don't grow where they once did beneath the thousands upon thousands of hectares of dead pine forest.

Chief Leonard Thomas of the Nak'azdli Band, near Fort St. James in north-central B.C., is also worried about retaining jobs and keeping communities together once the infested trees are removed.

"It is a huge cultural impact on First Nations people, simply because now we have to hunt a little harder to try and get the animals we used to sustain ourselves," Thomas said.

"A lot of these patterns are going to change because of the mountain pine beetle."

Some bands have their own logging firms and have already cleared the dead trees and brush from around their reserves homes and buildings.

But most have only just begun making fire protection plans.

Thomas said many communities don't have the equipment or the manpower to do the work that will protect communities and their only plan is to evacuate if a fire draws near.

"The pine beetle is the deadliest threat right now," he said.

Link to full article:


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Forest Fire Season again in BC

Lately we've seen all the wildfires in California, and some in other parts of Canada. There have already been more fires in BC this year than most people probably realize (379), and most of these were caused by people.

Nelson BC had an incredible thunderstorm on Sunday night that had many loud lightning strikes. Luckily, there was about a half hour of rain that followed the storm. It doesn't seem like it's taken long for the outdoors to dry out, we've gone from cool, rainy periods in late spring to 30+ degree weather at the end of June. And the next two weeks look to have weather in the high 20s and low 30s.

Here is a recent news release from the Ministry of Forests on campfire safety, which is a good read for anyone taking their holidays this summer in the woods.


June 26, 2008
Ministry of Forests and Range


VICTORIA – Although British Columbia has experienced cooler than average temperatures so far this year, the potential for fire starts still exists due to low amounts of rainfall this spring, said Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell today.

“During the long weekend and throughout the year, I encourage the public to practise campfire safety,” Bell said. “Remember that once you start a campfire, you are legally responsible for making sure it doesn’t escape and is completely out before you leave.”

Since April, provincial forest firefighters have responded to 101 abandoned campfires, 28 of which caused a forest fire. To date, abandoned campfires have burned over 70 hectares of forests, and have cost the Province nearly $160,000 in direct firefighting costs.

Fire crews have responded to 379 fires provincially since April 1, nearly 85 per cent of which were caused by people.

Although the 2008 fire season has had a slow start due to the cold spring, some regions are already experiencing very dry forest fuel conditions due to low precipitation. Fine fuels including grass are drying, raising fire risks especially when people underestimate conditions.

Practise campfire safety by never leaving your fire unattended. Use an existing fire pit, or build a proper one by placing a ring of rocks around the fire to prevent escape. Individuals are reminded to have water and hand tools close by, and to saturate the fire with water until it is completely cold to the touch before leaving.

For the latest information on fire bans, fire danger ratings and weather information, visit the Protection program website: www.bcwildfire.ca.

Please report all grass and forest fires to 1-800-663-5555, or *5555 on the cellular network.