Recreating Responsibly in the Backcountry During Fire Season
On July 20th, 2021, the B.C. Government declared a provincial state of emergency in response to the ongoing wildfire situation. The declaration, made by Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, came into effect on July 21st, 2021, upon the recommendation from the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.
The state of emergency is in effect for 14 days, though it may be extended or rescinded as necessary; applies to the whole province and ensures federal, provincial, and local resources can be delivered in a coordinated response to protect the public.
With that, the public is being asked to be mindful of the needs of B.C.’s wildfire response through careful and considerate trip planning when hiking and recreating in the backcountry. Aside from diligently working to suppress wildfires across the province, BC Wildfire Service has also been involved in a number of coordinated rescues of hikers. Such rescue calls require the diversion of helicopters from the fire line and may detract from the efforts of supressing wildfires.
So how can you play your part? Responsible use of the backcountry is critical.
- Brush up on your knowledge and skills to make informed decisions when enjoying the outdoors.
- Utilize online tools such as FireSmoke Canada, BC Wildfire Dashboard and PurpleAir – Air Quality Monitoring in order to help you make informed and up-to-date decisions on your travel plans.
- Plan your trip well in advance, ensuring you’re up-to-date with the latest wildfire information and wildfire evacuation orders, along with park closures and road closures or detours along your route.
- Prepare an emergency plan and put together an emergency kit in the event you encounter a disaster.
- Be sure that your travel plans or recreation activities are not interfering in any manner with wildfire mitigation efforts. There have been reports of drones been flown near aircraft, forcing water bombers to be grounded. People have also been recreating on water bodies, hampering aircraft’s ability to pick-up water. Don’t be one of these people, be aware of your proximity to wildfires.
- If you see a wildfire while you’re recreating, report it by dialing *5555 on a cellphone or calling 1-800-663-5555. A small fire can quickly become a serious wildfire; your call matters.
Nature has been there for us throughout the pandemic. Now we need to be there for nature.