The Okanagan Nation Alliance says a planned burn near Keremeos this month will restore forest and grassland health while also reducing wildfire risks.
The burn will take place on Crater Mountain, which is due west of Keremeos, and will target 192 hectares. The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) says the burn is part of a multi-year land management plan that will target a total of 680 hectares along the eastern slopes of the mountain.
According to the ONA, the planned burns will protect nearby Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) members and the community of Keremeos from potential wildfires moving up from the south.
“After the devastating wildfires that we experienced in 2018, it is vital that we implement these practices to enhance wildlife habitat and adapt to the effects of climate change,” said Chief Keith Crow of the LSIB.
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Crow said prescribed burns are a long-standing traditional method of enhancing wildlife habitat while also reducing wildfire risks.
The burn is described as phase one of a comprehensive, multi-year project aimed at improving bighorn sheep habitat, reducing wildfire threats, protecting cultural values, and providing an opportunity for collaboration to support the re-establishment of fire as part of the natural disturbance regime in the Okanagan.
The planned burn is a partnership project between the LSIB, ONA, the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and B.C. Wildfire Services.
The ONA says active fire suppression has led to extreme fuel loading and vegetation ingrowth throughout Syilx territory. Combined with climate change, fire suppression has led to longer, more intense, and more destructive wildfire seasons and a less resilient forest and grassland ecosystem.
For more about the Okanagan Nation Alliance and prescribed burns, click here.