September 26, 2017 10:54 pm

2017 BC wildfire season ‘the new normal’: province urged to act

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After another destructive wildfire season, the province is being urged to do more to protect communities and prepare B.C. for the future wildfire threat.

Professors from UBC and the University of Northern British Columbia, along with fire ecologists, have drafted a letter to the province saying they believe 2017’s record-setting fire season “represents the new normal and is part of a global trend of increasing mega-fires.”

They have come up with dozens of recommendations they believe the province should implement to address the wildfire challenge.

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READ MORE: 2017 officially B.C.’s worst ever wildfire season

“Moving forward, the types of warm, dry, windy conditions that we saw this summer are projected to become more and more common because of climate change. With our forests in their current state, we will become susceptible year after year to wildfires,” said Dr. Lori Daniels, a professor of forest and conservation sciences at UBC and one of the authors of the letter.

Among other things, the recommendations call on the province to improve its ability to do prescribed burns and to make it a priority to decrease the fire hazard around rural communities.

Daniels said the 45 recommendations related to “both how we respond to fires in an emergency situation [and] how we can more proactively and more urgently be acting to protect the wildland urban interface.”

The report is getting support in the Okanagan. Three Okanagan mayors are among the local politicians and academics who have also signed the letter.

In a written statement responding to the call to action, the province said that after an unprecedented wildfire season, it is committed to having supports and programs in place for recovery and that the letter will be considered as part of a broad review of what worked and what needs improvement.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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