The Nautley River. Marieka Sax photo

Nechako Watershed Roundtable seeks to open wildfire dialogue with province

The group sent the B.C. government a statement of concern in October

The Nechako Watershed Roundtable (NWR) wants the opportunity to provide input to the province as it creates a new action plan to improve wildfire policies and practices, following B.C.’s worst two wildfire seasons on record.

The NWR is a collaborative initiative established to protect and improve the health of the Nechako Watershed. The watershed, a river system in north-central B.C., encompasses two regional districts, five municipalities, including Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, and Fort St. James, and 14 First Nations communities. The watershed is the second largest in the Fraser River Basin.

“We are glad the Province is committed to better protecting and preparing communities,” said NWR Co-Chair Brian Frenkel in a press release. “As critical work on wildfire management progresses, there are good reasons to have a watchful eye on watershed health.”

The watershed is at risk from the mountain pine beetle, salvage logging, and major wildfires, like those this past summer. These threats can impact the runoff and flood risk, erosion, water quality, and habitat of the watershed — and all of the communities which rely on it.

The NWR held its annual meeting in Nautley, B.C. on Nov. 2, 2018, where speakers gave presentations on the experience of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation community during the 2018 wildfires, findings on the historical forest disturbance of wildfires, and the impact of the wildfires on river temperatures, flows and water levels.

In mid-October, the NWR also sent a Statement of Concern to the B.C. government, urging all levels of government to enter into a dialogue which would “examine current and past land and water management practices and legislative policies that may be impacting and exacerbating these issues.”

In particular, the statement requested the government implement a recommendation from the report 21st Century Disaster Management in British Columbia, which states: “Following wildfire events, promptly undertake timber supply reviews to enable industry response and adaptation to a new annual allowable cut, and to allow BC to better understand and respond to impacts on habitat, fibre availability and community stability.”

In the press release, Frenkel says the recommendation would lead to “better landscape level planning (watershed level planning) and ensure that we are looking at and conserving all values of the land base.”



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