Mission closing municipal forest due to extreme wildfire risk

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The City of Mission has made the decision to close its municipal forest and surrounding areas due to an “extreme wildfire risk.”

Starting Thursday, Aug. 24, the Mission Municipal Forest, which includes Stave West Forest and Recreation Area, Hunter Road, Red and Bear mountains, and the BC Hydro boat launch will be closed to the public. Only vehicles travelling to designated and reserved campsites will be permitted in the area.

“As we have all witnessed in recent days, the risk of wildfire in interface areas has never been more real and present,” said Mission Mayor Paul Horn.

“Here in Mission, our forest constitutes literally half of our community and countless people would be displaced or adversely affected by a wildfire.  Indeed, this area provides both drinking water and electricity to many local homes, so any harm to the area would have a long-lasting effect.”

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There is no timeline for reopening, according to the city. It said the closure will remain until “the fire risk reduces.”

“With our provincial resources stretched to their limits and water in diminishing supply, it makes sense for our community to take the unusual measure of closing access to the Florence Lake FSR,” Horn said.

“This road is the most travelled forest service road in all of B.C., so we don’t take this decision lightly. Our staff will work closely with the province in monitoring conditions and updating the closure. We will open the road as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The city warns that those who do not adhere to the closures may be subjected to fines.

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According to the provincial drought map, the Lower Mainland Basin, which includes Mission, the region is at Drought Level 5, where adverse impacts are “almost certain.”

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On Wednesday, one fire was burning roughly 18 kilometres north of Mission — the Davis Lake wildfire. It is currently deemed under control and is an estimated 215 hectares.

“Fire activity within this perimeter may increase as a result of high temperatures and wind. While the fire may be producing more smoke and flames, it is still classified as under control,” BC Wildfire Service staff said in an update.

It is suspected to be human-caused.

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