A few weeks ago, while driving on Highway 1 just south of Ashcroft, I came across two grass fires burning near the road and recalled the difficult summers of 2017 and 2018; our land and our memories still bear the scars of past wildfire seasons. This summer we have thankfully been faced with a less intense fire season, providing us with a brief respite after many summers of hardship and loss.
However, even though we are not currently dealing with a devastating wildfire season, efforts are still being taken to prepare for the future and further recovery, as across the region many are still dealing with the impacts of fires. Ranchers, in particular, are still struggling with lack of fencing and frequent mudslides.
Adapting to the new reality following a damaging fire is no easy task, but it is comforting to see the people of Fraser-Nicola not only rebuilding, but making and updating plans for the future. I recently had the opportunity to visit BC Wildfire Services and talk with them about the latest changes that they have made to their operations and communications plans. It was reassuring to see our response to fires evolve as we learn from the past and implement new strategies for the future.
Last year’s Abbott/Chapman report was a step on the path towards updating our approach to wildfires on a provincial level, although even with many of the 108 recommendations now complete or underway, there is still much room for improvement.
In the meantime, however, it is encouraging to hear stories of recovery as communities adapt to life after devastating wildfires. In the Clinton area, Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort is a prime example, using their experience battling the Elephant Hill wildfire in 2017 as an opportunity to show guests how the land and the forest recovers, and reminding us all of the land’s resilience.