The Lower Similkameen Indian Band is fighting fire with fire this month by starting a multi-year prescribed burn in the Crater Mountain (iʔ ʕacqxʷúʔ) area.
“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. cikilaxwm (prescribed burn) is a long standing Syilx method that enhances wildlife habitat and reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfire, it only makes sense that we revitalize these practices,” stated LSIB chief Keith Crow in an Okanagan Nation Alliance press release.
The 192 hectare prescribed burn is phase one of a comprehensive multi-year project aimed at improving bighorn sheep habitat, reducing wildfire threats to nearby communities, 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.
A total of 680 hectares will be burned on the east slope of Crater Mountain (iʔ ʕacqxʷúʔ) over the next few years. The prescribed burn will focus on areas nearest to communities as a priority, protecting nearby LSIB members and the community of Keremeos from potential wildfire moving up from the south.
The prescribed burn is being completed through a partnership between LSIB, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) and BC Wildfire Services (BCWS).
“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. The ONA supports the important role of Syilx communities’ responsibility to re-establish prescribed fire on the Okanagan landscape. For more information: www.syilx.org/projects/prescribed-burns/,” the release stated.
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