British Columbia has seen one of the worst Wildfire Seasons ever this the fire season were fueled by high desert-like temperatures. With the high heat drying the ground and forest floors just about any spark could ignite and fire. These same conditions allow the fire to continue to burn and spread. Our firefighters were part of continent-wide efforts to contain and extinguish the flame brought about by the Global Climate Crisis. Now there is another problem when we look at the aftermath and damage wildlife management areas. These areas are closed to the public so that “repair” and studies can be complete. Some of the public areas are not safe for people to be in right because of terrain conditions.
Media Release From the BC Ministry of Forest
As of Oct. 15, 2021, areas within McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’łniw’t wildlife management area (WMA) damaged by this year’s Thomas Creek fire have been closed to all public use.
This will expand the area in the WMA that is closed due to the 2020 Christie Mountain fire.
The Thomas Creek fire that occurred over the summer has severely damaged a portion of the McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’łniw’t WMA. In response to this vulnerability, the burned area is closed to the public. The entire WMA is also closed to mushroom picking, camping and motor-vehicle use.
While wildfire is a natural part of the landscape and important in maintaining productive wildlife habitat, recently burned areas are highly sensitive and vulnerable to impacts from public use. This temporary closure will continue until the threat to wildlife and the habitat is lessened.
The closure does not apply to most uses where a legal permit or tenure has been obtained or to Indigenous uses for food, social, cultural or ceremonial activities. The Penticton Indian Band and the Province are collaborating to assess and monitor public use in the WMA following the wildfire.
Known as nsək’łniw’t in the Okanagan/Syilx language (in the English language, this Syilx placename refers to the gash on the side of the mountain and describes an important Syilx Nation trail), the area has been protected by the Syilx people since time immemorial and holds significant cultural value.
- WMAs are established in B.C. for the benefit of regionally and internationally significant fish and wildlife species or their habitats.
- The McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’łniw’t WMA, located between Penticton and Okanagan Falls, was established in 2013 to protect habitat for at-risk bighorn sheep.
McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’łniw’t WMA post-wildfire assessment:
Mushroom picking on public land:
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