One environmentally-minded Smithers woman is trying to learn more about the climate impacts currently facing the Bulkley Valley.
In her new podcast series 54 Degrees North: Climate Chronicles of the Bulkley Valley, Nikki Skuce took it upon herself to learn about the unique impacts of climate change in the region.
The podcast, recorded by Skuce between August and November, has six episodes.
They range in topic from glaciers to salmon sustainability to wildfires and include interviews with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), Research Climatologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Vanessa Foord and former MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley Nathan Cullen.
Discussing the inception of the podcast, Skuce said she has been interested and aware of climate change for as long as she can remember.
More recently she pointed to an anecdote this past spring.
“When my son and I looked at all the leaf miners at the window back in May, it made me curious as to what climate change impacts were already here and how we will need to adapt,” said Skuce.
She said that while climate change has always impacted the region, its effects have been more clearly seen in recent years.
“The previous two years have had extreme droughts in the region which have impacted everything from forest health, to insect infestations to river water levels. Salmon runs have also been low with Skeena sockeye runs 75 per cent lower than during historical times,” said Skuce.
It’s something she said is particularly damaging to a region which historically had frequent abundances of salmon.
“Salmon have always been a unifying force throughout the watershed and this time should be no different. We need to do what we can within our control such as reducing cumulative effects, conserving and restoring fish habitat throughout the watershed.”
In addition to the direct affect of climate change on the region, the podcast’s last episode — Act and Adapt — focuses on some local initiatives that aim to reduce emissions and advocate for more action locally.
“Given existing impacts from the climate crisis, we are going to need to both act and adapt to the changes. Community resilience will be an important part of adaptation and working together in times of extreme weather events and changes.”
For her part, Skuce said she hopes the podcast will help educate and open people’s eyes to the reality of climate change within the Bulkley Valley and motivate them to take action.
She added the experience was a learning experience for her too.
“I learned tons, including that we have 35 per cent less precipitation in the winters; that we knew of a pathogen impacting forest health as a result of climate change in the late [1990s] and yet did little to integrate climate change into forest management practices; that leaf miners are unlikely a result of climate change but are an added stress to aspen during droughts; and that the changing timings of salmon runs and berries ripening may impact names given in the Wit’suwit’en culture.”
54 Degrees North was made possible with funding by Wetzin’Kwa Community Forest Corp. and Northwest Institute.
It can be found online and will be aired on Smithers Community Radio CICK 93.9FM starting at the end of January.