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Fighting forest fires


Sitting in the lake in the Shuswap we looked up to see a plume of smoke on the side of the mountain.


My heart sank.


I remembered the year before in the Shuswap when we couldn’t see from one side of the lake to the other because of the smoke, and didn’t want this to be a repeat of that.


So, we jumped onto our phone and called *5555 to report it.


My son’s friend works for the BC Wildfire Service and saw my sister-in-law’s name attached to the report. He called my son and told him that they were being dispatched to it.


The next morning, I read on Castanet that the fire had been put out and could see it on the map.


Looking up, we could see that there was only a smoulder left.


With the heat that has rolled in, and over 4,000 lightening strikes in the past week, you can see why some have started.


But most, sadly, are human caused.


It does feel like we have suffered far more in this last six years than before.


I have lived in the Okanagan for my entire adult life, and in 2003 the Okanagan Mountain Park fire was the “fire of the century”.


But in the last six years, we have had three fire seasons larger than that one, with the loss of property and the loss of life.


We are getting warmer and dryer, and with this climate change, comes greater need to mitigate and prevent these emergencies.


As the Critic for Environment, I am acutely aware of what the BC Government is doing and what more can be done to mitigate climate change and build climate change resilience.


What we are doing in our forests isn’t working, and we need to have a holistic forest management plan with all of the stakeholders at the table.


We also need to fight fires more aggressively.


There is a company based on Vancouver Island that will not work for the BC Government, and instead takes over 4 Billion dollars of air firefighting equipment to Australia, Alberta, and California.


We should have these resources deployed in BC, and should work with local companies to do so.


Why do we need to fight fires more?


Here’s why: the fires last year released over 218 megatons of Green House Gas (GHG) or

CO2 into our air.


To put this into context, that is almost 3 times ALL of BC’s yearly GHG’s and 100 times what our LNG sector produces in a year.


Think about that.


If we stopped one fire season, what better air we would breathe.


And as we all know, when the smoke comes, our eyes burn, our lungs hurt, and we stop going outside or enjoying our nature.


Forest fires not only affect our forests, but our health and mental health as well.


We need less fires.


This is my call for us all to be vigilant.


To always be on the alert.


To report fires when you see them, and to do everything in your power to not start them.


Our land has dried out quickly, turning from green to brown, and is in perfect conditions for fires.


My question this week:


What do you think that we should do about fighting the forest fires, and what will you personally do to try to help?


I love hearing from you, and I read every email you send! Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call my office at 250-712-3620.

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