Letter to the editor: Wildfire management in B.C. could be done better writes a former Ranger-in-charge

It is patently obvious that B.C. is in a crisis situation relative to wildfire control in the province as evidenced during the 2017 and current summer periods. While this condition is now often blamed on global warming, one should reflect that past wildfire seasons such as 1958 and 1967 were also of severe intensity. Correspondingly resources during these earlier periods were minuscule compared to those now available therefore one should reflect as to why this untenable condition continues. In this connection I would offer the following:

1. Establish a holistic approach to provincial forest administration by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations rather than the current fragmented organization.

2. Firmly entrench the 10 a.m. control concept which calls for control of wildfires by 10 a.m. the next morning following detection. Too many fires are being classified as monitored or modified response resulting in substantial loss of forest values and smoke development (i.e. the Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos).

3. Develop and maintain liaison with the forest industry community and other suitable agencies to encourage early attack on wildfire incidents where opportune. Indeed, if the resources within the province are properly organized external assistance will be eliminated, or at least substantially reduced, with cost associated benefits.

3. Increase elimination of hazardous fuels on appropriate sites by broadcast burning during the fall period when weather conditions offer better control. Some smoke during this period is preferable to the current summer situation.

While the current direct cost of wildfire suppression is substantial, it pales in comparison to the massive loss of forest values and associated resources. Also, and possibly tragically, the atmospheric conditions being created under current wildfire control appear to be detrimental to the health of our citizenry and perhaps even fatal.

-George Benwell, Ranger-in-charge Lardeau 1963-1971 and Revelstoke 1972-1979

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