by Tamara Leigh
CLINTON – A group of producers is seeking compensation and an apology for damages caused when the BC Wildfire Service lost control of a prescribed burn on Hart Ridge Mountain, south of Clinton. The blaze quickly escalated and jumped Highway 97, threatening nearby ranches and homes and triggering evacuations and highway closures.
Greg Nyman speaks on behalf of the Cariboo & Thompson-
“I was liaising with an agrologist from 100 Mile, and they gave me a four-
The prescribed burns were started while he was on the mountain, cutting off his planned exit and putting him and over 100 head of cattle in harm’s way. Nyman got off the mountain safely but had to leave his cattle behind. In the end, the fire completely burned his 7,000-
“I haven’t found 30 head and I don’t know where they are. I am pretty sure they are gone,” says Nyman. “I don’t know what my losses are until I get my cows home. I don’t even know if our range unit will be viable or not. Might not have anywhere to turn out our cows, and then what? I’m not the only one.”
Nyman’s family has ranched south of Clinton since the 1960s. He took over in 1987 and has fought fires in the area off and on for close to 45 years. He is critical of the management approach they have taken.
“They’ve relied too much on backburns and too many of them have gone wrong,” he says. “It’s ineffective fire management. The way they use their resources and tools is not as effective as it used to be. Every year that the Liberals were in power, they cut funding, closed offices, cut staff. I don’t think we’re making progress; I think it’s getting worse.”
He’s quick to say that this is not a criticism of the frontline firefighters; it’s the management side that is ineffective.
“Communities need to be involved in fire management. There’s a total disconnect between the wildfire service and the communities, and they ignore our concerns,” says Nyman.
The group of ranchers and rural property owners started in the Clinton area and has expanded as they have been contacted by producers in other areas who are struggling with losses due to backburns.
“I spoke with a fellow out by Williams Lake who lost $1.5 million in timber that he was protecting on a backburn. There are so many stories like this,” says Nyman. “… Houses can be insured and rebuilt, but you can’t regrow a mature fir forest.”
The group would like an apology from government officials for the way Hart Ridge controlled burns were handled and for a general lack of consultation with local residents. They are also calling for compensation for livestock which are lost due to wildfires, as well as rural structures, woodlots, private timber, fields, grazing and fencing.
BC Wildfire Service says producers may qualify for compensation. According to a spokesperson, under the Wildfire Act, “people can be compensated for damage on private land for avoidable damage caused by fire control by government.”
Vol. 103 Issue 9
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
One province, one panel
Groundwater deadline extended
Happy as a pig!
Sidebar: Still waiting
Feds pour millions into tree fruit research
Sidebar: Will local procurement help?>
Editorial: Confined spaces
Back Forty: BC farmers need more than a land bank
Island Good campaign drives local sales
Poultry industry seeks to stop infighting
Egg farmers to receive biggest quota boost ever
New entrant focus
Decision day looms for chicken pricing appeal
Producers look to CanadaGAP for certification
Organic sector undertakes core review
Hopping to it!
Island couple named Outstanding Young Farmers
Turkey consumption continues to decline
BC potato growers enjoy a strong footing
Sudden tree fruit dieback a growing concern
Late season BC cherries in global demand
Farmers’ markets aim to be local food hubs
Field trial hopes to reduce phosphorus levels
Future looking bright for BC dairy producers
BC could benefit from US trade battles
Saputo puts its Courtenay plant out to pasture
The land of milk and salmon
Sidebar: Farming for the future
Out of the hands of BC farmers
Codes of practice need producer input
Preparation essential for wildfire response
Sidebar: Relief announced for drought, fire
Sidebar: Be FireSmart with these tips
New traceability regs to track movement
Agriculture a notable threat to species at risk
Improper pesticide use threatens access
Threat to neonics spurs scare in spud growers
Orchard presses forward with diversification
Staying on top of soil health is key to sound farming
No small potatoes
Farm families need to have affairs in order
Rotary parlours go upscale at two FV dairies
Study compares organic, conventional diets
Advisory service foresees growing demand
Sidebar: Tree fruit cutbacks a concern
Island dairy producers hone first aid skills
Woodshed: And that’s how rumours get their teeth
Research farm showcases small projects
Jude’s Kitchen: Shooting stars of spring