Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok is once again calling for a closure of B.C.’s backcountry, given the current heat and extreme fire conditions.
Clovechok was one of the first to call for it last year, beginning in early August. The provincial government issued backcountry bans in some areas on August 31, 2017.
Now, Clovechok says, don’t wait for the situation to get worse, do it now.
“I reached out to the Minister (Doug Donaldson, FLNRO) two weeks ago and encouraged him to think about it,” he said.
“I get that it’s based on science and BC Wildfires makes the call, but I have asked the Minister to consider closing the backcountry. Look at the temperatures being forecast for this week. It’s tinder dry out there. Why would we even consider not doing it?”
One of the things that concerns Clovechok is that with parts of Alberta’s backcountry closed, many from that province are heading to British Columbia to vacation. They are bringing their ATVs as well, and Alberta law doesn’t require guards that reduce sparks from these vehicles.
And then there are those who are ignoring the campfire bans entirely.
“We welcome Alberta tourists and want you to enjoy yourselves, but we also ask that you think of the people who actually live here.”
Clovechok is aware that he will be criticized for calling for a backcountry closure.
“I don’t care. It’s our homes, our livelihood. It’s getting extreme, it’s time to close the backcountry. It’s not popular, but it’s the way it is. This is the new norm apparently. Look at what’s going on in California. We don’t want that here. Shut it down.”
Clovechok says he appreciates the good work of Conservation Officers in going after those not following bans, but there are only so many of them and they are being run off their feet.
“I don’t want to push the panic button but given the heat, the situation is comparable to last year. Don’t wait as long as we did last year. Shut it down now.”