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South Okanagan wildlife area closed to public; still vulnerable from Christie Mountain wildfire

A map showing the McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’ɬniw’t wildlife management area in orange. A portion of the wildlife management area was severely damaged by the massive fire that razed 2,122 hectares last August. Province of B.C.

An area damaged by the Christie Mountain wildfire in the South Okanagan last year has been closed to public use.

This week, the Ministry of Forests announced that a portion of the McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’ɬniw’t wildlife management area was severely damaged by the massive fire that razed 2,122 hectares last August.

The ministry said effective immediately, the damaged area is vulnerable and, because of that, is now closed to all public use, including mushroom picking, camping and motor-vehicle use.

Read more: Massive thank you message created to thank crews battling B.C.’s Christie Mountain wildfire

The McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’łniw’t wildlife management area is located between Penticton and Okanagan Falls and was established in 2013 to protect habitat for at-risk bighorn sheep.

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“While wildfire is a natural part of the landscape and important in maintaining productive wildlife habitat, recently burnt areas are highly sensitive and vulnerable to impacts from public use,” said the ministry.

“This temporary closure will continue until the threat to wildlife and the habitat are lessened.”

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Notably, the ministry said the closure does not apply to most uses where a legal permit or tenure has been obtained or to Indigenous uses for food, social, cultural or ceremonial activities.

“The Penticton Indian Band and the province are working collaboratively to assess and monitor public use in the (wildlife management area) following the wildfire,” said the ministry.

The McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’łniw’t wildlife management area is 6,491 hectares in size. The ministry did not say how big the damaged area is.

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