The fire situation in BC this summer has come to a critical level and there’s no reprieve in sight. I used to be a wildland firefighter and fully understand what this means for communities, the environment and general safety in our province during this time of extreme care and suppression. Another question that has been posed is how do the BC forest fires affect tourism?
BC is an amazing place and many people flock from all over Canada and the world to visit in the summer but can the BC fires affect tourism or can tourism affect the forest fires? The BC fire situation has been a priority for our government for some time now and has been suppressed ever since we have had established towns and communities across BC, but does the model need to change on how we deal with hot summers and an increasing number of tourists? Fire is a natural phenomenon and provides a role in nature that rejuvenates the forest but we have slowed or stalled this process to protect communities for over a century. We are now at the point though that we have suppressed these fires so much that there is excessive amounts of fuel in forests across BC as well as large swaths of pine beetle kill, which are incredibly susceptible to fire. Populations have to be keenly aware of every action they make when they are participating in tourism activities or out in the backcountry. Recreation vehicles, cigarette butts and any spark can have disastrous consequences when the forest is this dry.
Canadian media is reporting that the BC forest fires affect tourism visits too. The province is tinder dry and new fires are popping up frequently. Even Destination BC is releasing updates on the wildfire situation, even though they would probably rather not acknowledge them, but safety is the #1 concern. I have even been sequestered in my house here in Nelson BC knowing that the backcountry visibility is low and that significant exercise or exertion could bring on coughing and respiratory issues, which happened to me after biking in the scorching hot summer of two years ago.
The factor of how tourists and all recreation users behave also must be acknowledged. Recreation vehicles, cigarette butts or the smallest spark can have disastrous consequences to individuals and communities. We all have to play safe when outside this summer and keep a keen eye for new fires.