Friday, December 08, 2006

Wildfire in the Wilderness by Chris Czajkowski

Alarm about the 2004 Lonesome Lake fire went unnoticed for a while, to the great frustration of locals. It prompted me to start a blog and bring attention to the fire with reports from locals. Some of my friends and clients (I design web sites) were in the midst of this drama and their personal accounts were vivid, leading, amongst other things, to me getting a call from the CBC asking for information. Once the fire grew in size it had no trouble getting attention. Amongst those in danger was Chris Czajkowski, pioneer log cabin builder, botanist and wilderness tour guide. She was sending me regular reports which I reproduced in my blog and then on her web site. This year she published her account of this dramatic experience: Wildfire in the Wilderness

Nuk Tessli - Photo © Katherine StewartThe book culminates in a white-knuckle account of the all-too-close Lonesome Lake fire of 2004, from its infancy as a lightning strike reported in nearby Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, to Czajkowski's realization that her first wilderness cabin had been consumed by fire and the dreaded moment when she is ordered by radiophone to evacuate herself, her guests and her dogs.

This latest book from Chris Czajkowski's spectacular corner of the world is another engrossing account of life in her wilderness. She regales the reader with accounts of shimmering mountain peaks, roaring snow-fed creeks, bears, eagles and monstrous storms; and tales of her dogs - Bucky (short for Bucket-head), who chases everything; Max, who tussles with wolves and a porcupine; and Raffi, a large, happy animal who thinks he's a lapdog.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Two new books on the Bowron Lakes

NEW (March 2007): These books now have their own web site, along with other information:

BC photographer, Chris Harris, has published nine books. His two most recent bring to us his longtime experience on the Bowron Lakes.

The Bowron Lakes, British Columbia's Wilderness Canoe Circuit - A Lifetime Journey features 150 of his photographs in a generous 10.5" x 10.5" format. The images are augmented by information and archival material outlining the natural and cultural history of the Bowron Lakes.

The Bowron Lakes, British Columbia's Wilderness Canoe Circuit, A Lifetime Journey
Here is a photographic record of a man's discovery of his self in the deepest wilderness. Out of the physical and emotional challenges of more than 100 trips through the Bowron Lakes and the wilderness around them, alone, in the company of close friends, with large groups of clients, and even on skis in winter, Chris Harris has redefined his relationship to wilderness and photography. The Bowron Lakes: A Lifetime Journey will change yours. Its transformative combination of images and shared thoughts and stories is a gift brought from long exploration and deep reflection and contemplation. Land, water, light, animals, and the journey itself, are presented here as none have done before. - Harold Rhenisch
For those who plan to experience these lakes first-hand, Chris has recently published a guide book to the Bowron Lakes.
It will answer your questions about bears & wildlife, campsites & fires, trip preparations, portages, weather, reservations & registration, natural & cultural history of the area, and what canoe and wilderness experience you'll need to enjoy your trip. - from the web site.
The Bowron Lakes Guide Book

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Alcan question: aluminum or hydro?

Konrad Yakabuski in The Globe & Mail takes an in-depth look at the background to this story . . . which started when
In 1950, British Columbia's government gave Alcan the right to reverse the flow of the Nechako River, flood 125,000 acres of land and displace about 200 members of the Cheslatta nation so that the company could build the 900-megawatt Kemano station. The electricity was meant to supply Alcan's Kitimat aluminum smelter, located some 80 kilometres away and boasting an annual capacity of 277,000 tonnes.
Since then there has been much water through the turbines:
Things were still humming in the late 1980s, when Alcan won the approval of B.C.'s Social Credit government to build a $1.3-billion addition to Kemano—increasing power capacity by more than half—on the understanding the company would eventually build a much larger smelter to use the electricity and create hundreds of jobs in Kitimat. Sadly, this is where promises began to be broken and Kitimat's once-bright future—it was designed for 50,000 people but is home to fewer than 10,000—began to dim.
The rest of the story

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Provide shelter for winter birds: Chickadee

Those of you who've seen my Backyard Birds page will know of my interest in the feathered flyers. Winter - a tough time for birds - is almost upon us and here's something you can do to help them along:

Give Shelter to Wintering Birds

And, as No.2 in my Cariboo birds series, here's a common bird that will benefit from your assistance:

Birds from a Cariboo Deck
No.2 - Black-capped Chickadee

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Birds From A Cariboo Deck. No.1: Steller's Jay

This is the first in an occasional series featuring photographs I've taken of birds that visit my Cariboo back yard. It seemed appropriate to start with BC's provincial bird, the


The Steller's Jay is an occasional visitor but this year has decided to stay a while. It's now around two weeks and he/she is still here, filling up regularly with sunflower seeds, water and a little suet.

More Birds from A Cariboo Deck

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Record low levels in many Interior rivers

The BC Ministry of Environment's River Forecast Centre reports record (50-100 years) lows for many BC Interior rivers. These include:
  • most gauged rivers in the Peace
  • Fraser River at Hope
  • Fraser River at Prince George
  • Thompson River at Spences Bridge
  • North Thompson River at McLure
  • Coldwater River
  • Eagle River (at Malakwa)
  • Salmon River (at Salmon Arm)
  • Quesnel River
  • Bella Coola River
  • Saloomt River (at Hagensborg)
  • Tulameen River
Most of the BC interior is approaching freeze-up, with night-time temperatures now falling to below freezing at many of our snow pillow sites. If significant rainfall does not occur in the next three-to-four weeks, precipitation may occur as snow and rivers will remain at their low levels for the duration of the winter.

The Pacific Northwest is currently experiencing mild El Nino conditions, with a resultant tendency for warmer than normal and drier than normal conditions for the autumn and winter.
The Fraser River running through the central Cariboo
Photo JN Web Design

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Perspective on the Lodgepole Pine

Dave NeadsGuest article by Dave Neads, director of the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition and of the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society. He is a member of the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Resource Committee, represents the West Chilcotin Tourism Association regionally and writes a bi-monthly column on conservation issues for the Williams Lake Tribune.


The Lodgepole pine is an amazing tree. You can find it at sea level and on the backside of the coast mountains huddled against boulders at 6500 feet. One species, one adaptation, capable of living in this huge range of habitats.

That is what survival is all about, having the genetic options available to adapt to a huge range of conditions. We are all familiar with the coastal rain forests and the way they are promoted as havens for biodiversity. We're always reading about how many species there are per hectare, how many tonnes of biomass per cubic meter are produced.

The same is true of the tropical rainforest. The Amazon Basin is touted as a global hotspot, an area of such significance that it must be protected; must be treated differently because of its wealth of diversity.

While all of this is factual, it is only valid in times of relatively constant climate parameters.

The one thing these rainforests cannot tolerate, the one thing that kills them permanently, is a large scale shift in either water or temperature regimes. Because of this, these rainforests, whether tropical or temperate, actually occupy very restricted niches in the global ecosystem and are intolerant of any real shifts in the climate that supports them.

We are approaching times of instability, times of large shifts in climate, of large shifts in habitat structure and availability. The gene pool needed to cope with this milieu needs to be robust, adaptable and capable of living under a wide range of conditions.

The interior dry pine forests are a excellent example of the gene pool needed in the coming turbulence of climate disruption. These trees already have the ability to grow in wet warm places on the windward side of the mountains while at the same time thriving in the dry valley bottoms in the Fraser Canyon and on the highest tree line patches on the western edge of the Chilcotin Cariboo.

Such resilience is what needs to be respected, what needs to be set aside. The Mountain Pine Beetle is selecting out a huge percentage of the pine in the region of its interior habitat. When this process is done, the trees that are left will have the resilience to the beetle combined with the already acquired traits of survivability over a broad range of forest habitat.

This is the kind of gene pool that will survive; one that is strong, hardy, able to withstand the coming shocks. Now more than ever, as climate change marches across the globe, it is necessary to leave large areas of temperate interior dry forest intact. It is these areas that will provide the genetic reservoirs for the next generation of forest communities that will inhabit the region.

These trees that we take for granted may not be hundreds of feet tall, they may not be good pin-up material, but our interior dry forests are far tougher, more adaptable and vigorous than their warm climate cousins who will not survive a major shift in their habitat. We must make sure that we set aside areas where the the pine forests of the Chilcotin Cariboo can recover from this beetle and survive in enough numbers to blaze the evolutionary path in the coming decades.

- Dave Neads

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Bull Trout at Risk in BC

James Murray, in the Salmon Arm Observer, begins a new series on "mismanaging natural resources".
As I stood on the banks of the Adams River last week, watching, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say looking for, the sockeye salmon that were supposed to be returning to spawn (who knows for sure what is happening with the sockeye runs), I found myself pondering the plight of yet another fish species.
Read on

British Columbia Species at Risk

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Owner of Country Inn Motel describes the fire experience

Ted Hlokoff sent me this account. It is followed by a link to the article he and his wife Deana wrote for the Williams Lake Tribune.
I am a car collector and had many tools and car parts were lost in the fire. I have much more car stuff that was saved from the fire. Once it was obvious to me that the Motel fire was out of control I screamed for everyone to run away. Then I went to the Motel garage, threw a few parts into my 92 Stealth R/T Twin Turbo, and drove it out to the street. During the fire I realized that I had forgotten to get the keys to my Shelby Daytona, which was parked in front of the Motel. Interesting what heat can do.

The fire burned to the edge of the Nimpo Store's 10,000gl fuel tank, but it was undamaged. The 1,000gl Dell Propane Tank behind the Motel vented a few times, but it ended up undamaged as well. We are thankful that the safety features worked the way they were supposed to preventing a disaster. The Motel was surrounded by trees, which burned, but because there was no wind the fire contained itself, thank God.
- Fire collapses Country Inn Motel - Ted and Deana Hlokoff's article in the Williams Lake Tribune.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Country Inn Motel in Nimpo Lake burned to the ground

I am sad to report another loss to fire in the Chilcotin:

Yesterday, the Country Inn Motel in Nimpo Lake burned to the ground. Fortunately there were no casualties. Apparently the manager of the motel was able to alert all the guests in time to move themselves and their vehicles to a safe place. The owners, had moved to the Inn only a month ago, and lost everything. This is what the site looked like after the fire:

Fire destroys Country Inn Motel in Nimpo Lake

If you have more to add to this information - words or pictures - I'd be happy to post them here. E-mail. You can also add a comment by clicking on Comments at the foot of this post.

Close to the Nimpo Lake float plane base, the Inn was an important part of the local tourist scene and was recommended by such operations as The Nuk Tessli Alpine Experience.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another decrease in medical service for small-town BC

Fewer Doctor Visits Approved for Rural, Isolated Towns

By Ethan Ribalkin
Published: September 27, 2006

A lot of small towns in B.C. rely on the care of visiting family doctors and specialists. It's the only alternative to flying or busing people miles to medical centres. But this year the B.C. government has lowered the number of approved doctor visits to rural and isolated communities, according to a Health Ministry report obtained by The Tyee.

Read the article

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pictures of the Farwell Canyon bridge fire

[updated 8:20 pm PST]

Thanks to Dan Laurie, we have some dramatic pictures of the fire that took down the bridge. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

Farwell Canyon bridge fire

The loss of the bridge will affect many people, not least those involved in area logging. Radio 94X in Prince George reports:

Roy Halls, a local trucker says drivers will now only be able to make one trip a day carrying logs to williams lake from a large section of the South Chilcotin. He says the added trucking distance will increase costs for mills, while drivers will lose out on the additional work from when they hauled two loads a day. Halls says logging was supposed to continue in the affected area this winter, but those plans now need to be re-considered.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

More on the Farwell Canyon Bridge fire

Thanks to Kate for alerting me to this report in the Williams Lake Tribune. Pretty dramatic picture and story too.

It appears that there is a connection between the cause of the fire and the mudslide of two years ago: on Sunday night someone started a fire underneath the bridge, using brush that accumulated during the flooding caused by the slide. This quickly got the bridge support posts burning. In this picture, you can see how in 2004 the debris was lifted around the bridge by the rising water:

Dan, from Fort Nelson, has "some stunning shots of Farwell Bridge as it was burning", which I'm hoping to get soon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Farwell Canyon Bridge burnt down

Farwell Canyon bridgePhoto: Stanton Newman

I hear the Farwell Canyon bridge burnt down on Saturday night. Police and fire services were there through the night. Apparently there is a long way round alternate route.

Anyone out there know more about this and/or have pictures?

(If you're interested, I have pictures of the flood that occurred there in 2004)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A very big baby cowbird

This year brought a lot of heat and an unprecedented hailstorm to my Cariboo backyard. The hail stripped the bushes and trees of a lot of their (protective for the birds) foliage. Perhaps the most unusual happening was the pairing in this picture on the left. The bigger bird followed the Junco around for days, treating it like a parent. I didn't see it again after the hailstorm. The mystery: what is the "baby" bird?

And . . . I got the answer - from Tom Godin: "The large bird in the picture is a fully fledged cowbird that was no doubt raised by the junco that it was begging food from. Juvenile and female cowbirds look quite similar."

Visit Backyard Birds - 57 BC Interior birds

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Concerted opposition to Fairmont Hotsprings East Kootenay development

One Community's Firm 'No' to Tourist Boom

Looking across Columbia Lake to Lot 48, the small cleared section in the distance. Photo A. Bergles.

On Columbia Lake, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort has big plans - and creative opponents.
By Adrian Bergles. Published: August 29, 2006

At the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, a battle is being waged over some of the last untouched land in the area.

Read all about it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Running out of water

A quarter of us, many in rural areas but many more in the suburbs of the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island, in the Okanagan and elsewhere, depend on wells for tap water. Business and industries in those areas do the same. With each passing year, we're pumping more from the buried lakes and slow-moving underground streams known as aquifers.
So says Chris Wood in Pumping Blind and I think we'd better pay attention. If you use a well, how has it performed over time? Do you know the level of your water table? Is it rising, falling, staying the same? As for the big picture - how many wells in this province pumping how much water? etc. - it seems that nobody knows.

It's not a pleasant picture but you might as well find out about it now. It will only be worse if you wait. You will not be alone: there are many reader comments at the end of the article. If you feel so inclined, some back here and let me know (via the Comments section below) what you think about it all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Plan to build pipeline from Alberta oilsands to BC Port of Kitimat

Plans are in the works for an oil pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to the BC port of Kitimat. To many this sounds wonderful: jobs for locals, profits for the companies involved and taxes for the BC and Alberta governments. To many, however, the nature and scope of the project is a disaster - in process and in consequence.
If the plan goes ahead, the Gateway pipeline will be the largest petroleum pipeline project undertaken in North America in more than 50 years; at a cost of over $4 billion, it will be among the largest private infrastructure investments in B.C. history. Planned to begin construction in 2008, . . . that pipeline will employ 5000 full-time workers for two years, generating $25 million in taxes each year between B.C. and Alberta. In B.C. alone, the underground pipeline will be engineered to cross at least 1000 streams, rivers and lakes, each necessitating a separate file by Transport Canada.
Read: Massive Gateway project faces serious legal obstacles. A special report.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Alarm for the northern spotted owl

Alarm bells are ringing loudly as the northern spotted owl population drops to near extinction levels. According to Larry Pynn in the Vancouver Sun:

The number of known mating pairs of Canada's rarest bird, the northern spotted owl, has dropped to three from six and the overall population to 17 from 22 since last year, says the Sierra Legal Defence Fund.

The organization is urging the B.C. government to act immediately to save the endangered species. "If 17 birds doesn't constitute an imminent threat to survival, nothing does," staff lawyer Devon Page said in an interview.

"If they don't step in to save the spotted owl, they won't step in to save any species."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Native activists protect the North-west's natural heritage

In the 1950s, Dr. Edward Teller ("Father of the H-Bomb") championed a scheme to use nuclear weapons to carve out a harbor in Arctic Alaska. Successful resistance to "Project Chariot" united native villages.
says Joel Connelly in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The North-west's beauty is continually under threat. Under that beauty lies much mineral wealth and on it many trees. Without outspoken environmentalists and an increasingly activist native population, we would be left with a lot less of that natural beauty than we have today. You can imagine the scorn that was heaped by its protagonists on those who opposed using a nuclear bomb to change the Alaska coastline. We hear that scorn today directed at "tree huggers" etc. Yet it often takes that kind of activism to put the brakes on the land and resource hunger/greed.

and, again from Connelly:

In British Columbia, native leaders in ceremonial robes blocked logging trucks on Lyell Island in the Queen Charlottes. The protest helped create Canada's Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

According to Connelly, without the public exposure of the 2010 Olympics, we might be without most of the South Chilcotin Provincial park.
Vancouver newspapers love to depict B.C. environmentalists as strident and unreasonable, while putting industry's plans in the friendliest focus. With natives, however, the sneering stops.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Alarm sounded on coalbed methane in BC

Merran Smith in the Smithers Interior News:
We are concerned that B.C.’s regulations for coal bed methane are inadequate. Unlike mines such as Blue Pearl, coalbed methane developments are not subject to environmental assessments. There is nothing to address cumulative impacts. And compliance and enforcement monitoring is largely conducted by the company itself, not the government.
Read the article

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Wild Strawberries

Today I harvested our wild strawberries.

Yes, they are big. Thanks to Shadow, our previous dog, his squirrel chase-path flattened a piece of ground that the wild strawberries really took to. So this is one of Shadow's many legacies. I played my part by lightly weeding the patch once or twice a year and adding a little water when the land got very dry. Each year the patch expanded and the strawberries were always big - about twice the size of those in other parts of our land.

And, yes, they are delicious - the taste of summer in the Cariboo.
Next: the quickly-ripening raspberries.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Latest Chilcotin fire update from BC Forest Service

Ministry of Forests and Range, BC Forest Service, Cariboo Fire Centre:


Precipitation and cooler temperatures have helped to suppress fire activity and reduce the fire danger rating to low to moderate throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre. This weather pattern is expected to continue over the weekend, allowing fire crews continued success with the recent fires.

The fire near Wutlus Lake, 60 Km west of Quesnel, is held at just over 8500 hectares is 100% contained. Fire crews will continue working in the fire area to extinguish hot spots and rehabilitate areas affected by the fire. The California Interagency Incident Management Team (CIIMT) is handing over management of the fire to a British Columbian Incident Command Team this weekend. Rocky Opliger, Incident Commander of the CIIMT, would like to express his appreciation for the opportunity to take part in fire suppression efforts in British Columbia. A fire camp will remain in the area for the next week.

The fire camp located at Nazko is supporting crews working on the fires west of the area. The main fire is the Kluskoil Fire north of the Narcosli Ecological Reserve, which is held at 11,500 hectares. This fire isapproximately 25% contained with 90 km of guard constructed. A total of 280 firefighters, 60 fire personnel, 26pieces of heavy equipment and 6 helicopters are involved in suppression of these fires. Crews and equipmentcontinue to construct fire guards, action spot fires, mop-up and patrol the area. The Nazko fire camp is expected to remain well into August.

The Dean Fire near Tezla Lake north of Anahim Lake has been held at just over 11,000 hectares and is approximately 65% contained. There are 118 fire fighters, 64 fire personnel, 6 helicopters, and 11 pieces of heavy equipment. Fire crews continue to work on the fire guard, while infrared scanning is being used to search out hot spots to be extinguished.

A Transport Canada NOTAM restriction is still in effect, limiting aircraft flights over the fires areas. More information can found at Itcha Ilgatchuz Park is closed until further notice, and the Upper Dean remains closed to all traffic past the 60 km mark to allow unrestricted fire fighting activities.

The Cariboo Fire Centre would like to remind the public to re-evaluate their properties and Fire Smart them. Information on the Fire Smart program, along with fire information and updates can be found on the protectionwebsite at or call toll-free 1-888-3FOREST. If you see a wildfire, please report it to 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks.

Contact Kim Steinbart Fire Information Officer. 250-989-2655

  • UPDATE - July 17, 2006: B.C. wildfire threat fizzles, for now.

    [Feb. 2006: Farwell Canyon bridge fire]

  • Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Cariboo Regional District on emergency plans and evacuation alerts

    Received today from the Cariboo Regional District:

    CRD Emergency Operations Centre in Full Gear

    The CRD’s Emergency Operations Plan was deployed for the first time as a result of the wildfires in the Chilcotin and the North Cariboo. The cities of Quesnel and Williams Lake have rallied to help in the relief efforts. Communications and Emergency Response support has been provided by the City of Quesnel while support staff from Williams Lake has volunteered to assist in the CRD’s Emergency Operations Centre.

    Today, the CRD rescinded the evacuation orders for Euchiniko and Nazko and replaced them with evacuation alerts. The existing evacuation order for Tezla Lake and Upper Dean, and the evacuation alerts for Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake remain in effect and unchanged. For up to date fire information, please contact the Cariboo Fire Centre at 250-989-2600. For more information regarding evacuations, please contact the Cariboo Regional District at 250-392-4283.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Nazko (Chilcotin) fire update

    From the Globe & Mail:

    Nazko evacuation order provisionally lifted

    An evacuation order was lifted yesterday for residents who were forced to run from a forest fire in the Nazko area, west of Quesnel.

    The order was downgraded because of lower temperatures and torrential rain, which put a damper on many fires in the southern Interior.

    The B.C. Forest Service warned, however, that the rain wasn't enough to soak the fuel on forest floors, and another few days of sun could reverse the situation. CP

    "Forest fire situation in Anahim Lake is improving"

    The forest fire situation in Anahim Lake is improving, says acting Ulkatcho band manager John McCarvill.
    "We've got cooler temperatures and the fire isn't burning as it was."

    On Wednesday, July 5, McCarvill said the 10,000-hectare fire 15 kilometres north of Anahim Lake, was moving towards the community at the rate of one kilometre an hour.

    Read on

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Update from someone living near the Anahim Lake fires

    The fires here are looking pretty good at the moment, as of yesterday afternoon anyhow. It was quite windy, but apparently it was driving the fire up into the alpine, rather than down into more timber. It also switched back onto itself a bit, which is a really great turn. Cats are working on a fire guard right in front of it, and that seems to be working as well. There wasn't the amazingly huge column of smoke yesterday afternoon that we have had previously, so that is encouraging.

    Rumour has it that, if operations continue as they are (without any more challenges from Mother Nature), we should be able to feel fairly safe by tonight. The smoke has cleared quite a bit and that we are now able to see the mountains through the haze. The weather has turned relatively cool, and it looks though it may rain. Hopefully not thunder storms!

    A fire camp has been set up again at the Anahim Lake Airport, and a Type One Crew from Ontario has taken over. The major concern is simply lack of resources. There are so many fires in BC that crews and equipment is getting spread pretty darn thin.

    There have been several pieces of big equipment burned, as well as at least one truck, a four-wheeler, and some trailers, but as far as I know, no major structure has been destroyed. And, most importantly, no-one has been seriously hurt.

    This is of course, not written in stone by any means, just the basics of what I have been told. And, despite what I hear the media is saying, we were never evacuated, just put on a two hour alert.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Chilcotin fire evacuations north of Anahim Lake

    Fire evacuations ordered in the Cariboo-Chilcotin
    July 5, 2006
    About 2,000 people living in remote communities in B.C.'s Cariboo-Chilcotin region have been forced from their homes by the threat of two massive wildfires.
    Full story

    BC Forest Service: Cariboo fire update

    For current updates:
    Active Cariboo firesActive Cariboo fires

    A friend sent me this from the BC Forest Service:

    For Immediate Release
    July 4th, 2006

    Ministry of Forests and Range
    BC Forest Service
    Cariboo Fire Centre


    WILLIAMS LAKE – Smoke from the various wildfires in the Cariboo is drifting into surrounding communities. Smoke and ash have been reported in most areas of the Cariboo. The recent hot and dry weather has made fire behaviour extremely active.

    The smoke is mostly a result of 3 fires of note: the fire near Tezla Lake, about 48 kilometres northwest of Anahim Lake, which has grown to over 7000 hectares; the fire near Narcosli Lake, which is now burning at over 3000 hectares; and the fire northeast of Wutlus Lake, about 60 kilometres west of Quesnel, which has reached 3500 hectares.

    Due to active fire behaviour on the Wutlus Lake fire, the Nazko Highway is closed in both directions from 5.4 km east of Nazko to 33.4 km west of Quesnel. For more information and for up to date road conditions please see or

    Crews are also battling a number of smaller fires within the Cariboo Fire Centre, mostly located in the West Chilcotin. Fire crews are working as hard as possible to contain the fires with the resources available to them. There are over 200 firefighters working throughout the area, as well as contracted support staff. They are assisted by heavy equipment, airtankers and helicopters.

    Fire information and updates can be found on the protection website at or call toll-free 1-888-3FOREST. If you see a wildfire, please report it to 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks.

    Kim Steinbart
    Fire Information Officer

    Anahim Lake area fires, 2006

    Once again the Anahim Lake area is threatened by fire. I have a number of friends and clients in that area and am attempting to keep in touch with the situation. There isn't a lot of information available in the media. This is how it was last time there was a large fire in that area - in 2004. At that time I carried reports and pictures from people I knew who live in the area. It might be time to do that again. If you have reliable information on this fire, contact me via the Inside BC web site.

    Meanwhile, here's what I've come up with at this point:

    July 4: The forest service is also battling a wildfire in the Anahim Lake area which has forced the evacuation of one resident. Five aircraft and 118 firefighters have been dispatched to combat that blaze. - Global National (Canadian Press)

    July 4: The largest fire is located 48 kilometers northwest of Anahim Lake by Tezla Lake, and was reported at about 7 p.m. on Sunday. "The largest fire is currently at 150 hectares, and it's considered out of control right now," spokesperson Kim Steinbart said. There are buildings in the area and so far one resident has been asked to keep away from the area because of the air tankers and other firefighting activities. She said that nearly 100 firefighters are on the scene with eight pieces of heavy equipment.- Williams Lake Tribune

    This information is provided by the BC Ministry of Forests:

    Fire No. Geographic Discovery Date Hectares
    C50150 MapQuest 5.5 km N of Tezla Lk Jul 2, 2006 50.00
    C50148 MapQuest 2.4 km N of Tezla Lake Jul 2, 2006 9,000.00

    Click on the number to get more information and on the button to see the location

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Mining Minister Responds to Tyee Story on Land Disputes

    . . . and their reporter replies to his letter.

    The Tyee is outstanding in its encouragement of discussion and debate. It's encouraging to see a cabinet minister addressing challenging questions (see my previous post) even if Kendyl Salcito's rebuttal that follows is, in most cases, pretty convincing. The readers' comments that follow (below the reporter's comments) are pretty strong too.

    Read the story

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    BC land-owners vulnerable to prospecting miners

    It appears that mining rights to much of BC's land has been bought up - thanks, at least in part, to the provincial government's online staking system. According to Kendyl Salcito in The Tyee, this system:
    allows anyone with internet access and $25 to acquire a miner's license and then, at $0.17 an acre, buy mineral rights to land. It doesn't matter whether that land belongs to a neighbour, the Crown, or the "miner" himself. Once you own the mineral rights, you are free to "explore" your claims, wander the property, "poke at a few rocks," in the words of MP Tom Christensen. And once you decide to start drilling and digging, even the landowner's dwelling and buildings are at risk.

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    BC Grasslands at risk

    Will one of Canada's most endangered ecosystems receive National Park status?

    by Heather English
    The DominionKobau_sage_web.jpg

    The South Okanagan Valley contains more ecological diversity than any other in British Columbia.
    photo: Dick Canning

    When driving along Highway 3 in southern British Columbia, you’ll find yourself looking out over the South Okanagan Valley; a landscape made up of a mosaic of green, yellow and brown shades, each a different ecosystem. From the bunchgrass ecosystem in the lower elevations to the alpine tundra in the mountaintops, this region contains more ecological diversity than any other in British Columbia. The valley bottoms support more than just ecological diversity; they also support a booming tourist economy, cattle ranching, agriculture and vineyards. The opposing interest groups in the region have made the proposal for a national park reserve controversial and the region’s future uncertain.

    Read on

    For more images and information on the BC Grasslands, read Chris Harris' Grasslands photo journal.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    New Photo Journal from Chris Czajkowski

    Chris CzajkowskiPut a camera in the right hands and a new world opens up for a lot of people. Chris Czajkowski has had a digital camera for a few short months and already she has generated some striking images of her world in the Chilcotin wilderness of BC. Many wilderness lovers know her through her books and slideshows. They will be delighted at this more expansive view of her world, presented though her online Photo Journal. For those who don't know Chris, this is a very good introduction to her and the world she knows and loves.

    As her web designer for over five years, I've edited and placed many pictures on her web site but these carry a heightened immediacy. With Chris living off the grid and far from photo-processing labs, this is a classic example of the value of digital technology: high-tech in a low-tech setting.

    Chris Czajkowski

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Children form 100-foot mountain caribou

    Nearly 200 students, teachers and parents from Lindsay Park Elementary School in Kimberley, B.C., bent and stretched their bodies to from a 100-foot mountain caribou to help raise awareness for this critically endangered species. Fewer than 1600 mountain caribou remain in the world, almost all of which live in B.C.. The Purcell herd near Kimberley has dwindled to fewer than 20 animals in recent years.
    Visit for more information.

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    A timely review of BC's endangered Mountain Caribou:

    Many culprits active in caribou decline - May 15, 2006

    Biologists who have been studying mountain caribou in B.C. for 20 years expect several of the small groups will disappear soon. The biggest herd consists of about 525 caribou, and it is considered relatively stable. But the rest are pretty much on their way out - unless a government caribou-recovery strategy that is expected to be finalized this fall can save them.

    Complete Globe & Mail article

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Interior Fraser coho salmon abandoned

    Cowardly act kills species

    By terry glavin

    Although it once thrived, the Interior Fraser coho may soon be forced out of the world’s fast-dwindling inventory of living things. Ernest Keeley photo.

    Although it once thrived, the Interior Fraser coho may soon be forced out of the world’s fast-dwindling inventory of living things. Ernest Keeley photo.

    This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but with decisions. The decision that this column is about is buried deep within a 6,916-word “regulatory impact analysis statement”, a document with the misleading title “Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian shelf) and Channel Darter Protected Under the Species at Risk Act”. It appeared quite suddenly on an obscure federal public-registry Web site, at the very end of the business day in Ottawa, on Friday, April 7.

    What was hidden in that document was Ottawa’s decision to withhold the protection of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) from a critically endangered species known as the Interior Fraser coho salmon.

    Read the full story in the Georgia Straight.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Money for BC Slaughterhouse transition

    MEAT TRANSITION: Assistance program

    The Meat Transition Assistance Program (MTAP) will provide $5 million to help B.C.'s new and existing slaughterhouses meet the standards under the Ministry of Health's Meat Inspection Regulation by Sept. 30, 2007, the new date for provincewide enforcement. The program has been introduced to increase livestock slaughter capacity throughout B.C. by ensuring there are sufficient licensed facilities to provide livestock producers reasonable access to slaughter services.

    Read on

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Ongoing string of derailments and damage by CN Rail

    Click to see enlarged version of this pictureWhen the Campbell government, in breaking one of their main election promises, sold BC Rail, most of us in the BC Interior were sad and angry . . . We didn't know how bad it was going to get: on top of the loss of our local rail company, we now seem to have a bunch of incompetents running the line. Probably we all underestimated the work and know-how involved in taking trains along that challenging line - but CN! As Andru McCracken says in an article in The Tyee.
    you need people to operate these trains. You need human beings, capable of all manner of thought and observation to deal with problems that arise on a rail line.
    Whatever the reason (most likely cost-cutting to increase profits), we've had a string of accidents - spills (of varying toxicity), damaged bridges - that shows no sign of ending. This despite the fact that train length has been curtailed by the BC government (at a time when rail capacity is sorely needed to take some of the strain off our highways, burdened by beetle-kill logging trucks).

    Click to see enlarged version of this pictureFor a more in-depth consideration of the dangerous rail line we now have, read McCracken's article. Meanwhile, for our own protection let's keep our eyes open and the spotlight and pressure on CN, which seems to be attempting to hide and minimize the damage and danger they are responsible for. In McCracken's words:

    'Thank God it was grain,' I whisper to myself when I see their contents strewn meters from open water. Later, during my interview with Jim Feeny, one of CN's communications people, he briefly asked how I managed to get to the site. It was a telling question. On my own watch, CN's remoteness and their ownership of the rail corridor has protected them many times against the prying eyes of the media.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2006

    Shaw Cable and CBC need lessons in communication

    I phoned Shaw Cable today and was told that the reason we don't yet have a CBC channel as an option in the South and Central Cariboo is due to "technical problems". When I asked why this fact wasn't mentioned on their own information channel, I was told it was "too complicated" to explain! I suggested an explanation in about a dozen words and was then told my complaint would be conveyed to management.

    Tonight I found a CBC channel at position Number 22 on the dial (100 Mile House service). This may be temporary as the Williams Lake Tribune quotes Shaw as saying that they have to place the CBC channel between 2 and 13. So, it seems that the weather network has only temporarily lost its place.

    The Tribune article also quotes the person I quoted in my previous post on this - and gives his name, so I can acknowledge Rob Diether for taking a public stand on how this change deprives those not on cable - for location or financial reasons - of any access to CBC television.
    This is devastating for families like ourselves who live beyond cable connections and who canÂ’t afford or don'’t wish to install a satellite system.
    Diether urges television viewers in similar circumstances to contact CBC BC Programming, Comments and Questions at 1-866-306-4636.
    CBC has made available a list of where their programming is available in the affected areas - at least most of them. No word there about our neck of the woods: 100 Mile House - Williams Lake.

    It seems that those of us who live outside the awarenessrange of the corporate bureaucrats are going to have to make our voices heard if we are to get taken into account as the big wheels of commerce grind on.

    Decisions like this are made by the CRTC. Contact them, to make your views known.

    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    A Simple Curve - made-in-BC movie - winning awards

    A made-in-BC movie (New Denver, in fact) was recently released and initial reviews are favourable.

    A Simple Curve, directed by Director Aubrey Nealon, is based on his experiences growing up in a "hippie" family in the Slocan Valley. According to a review in The Tyee, A Simple Curve was recently named one of the top 10 Canadian films produced in 2005 by the Toronto International Film Festival Group and it was a finalist in the Best British Columbia Film category at this year's Vancouver Film Critics Awards.".

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    CFJC-TV - serving Kamloops and much of the BC Central Interior - to drop CBC programming

    If you live in or around the following areas, this change affects you: Kamloops, Chase, Clinton, Merritt, 100 Mile House (and 108 Mile Ranch), Nicola, Pritchard and Quesnel.

    This change seemed to come more or less out of the blue, aside from the occasional TV ad saying they are going"independent". For the record, here's the CRTC ruling that gave them permission to do this.

    A friend e-mailed this query to CFJC:
    Will CFJC have any CBC content after February 27th? Hockey night in Canada or National News?
    From CFJC's reply:
    As of February 27th, CFJC-TV will no longer carry any CBC programming. The full CBC schedule will be available on your local cable outlet or on either StarChoice or Bell Expressvue satellite systems. - Dave Somerton, CFJC-TV, Feb. 15, 2006
    His response:
    Frankly, its absolutely shameful that South Cariboo residents without access to cable (such as ourselves) or unable to afford a satellite T.V. system (such as our family) will no longer have access to our national broadcaster - C.B.C. This means no national news, special broadcasts, (in the event of national or international emergencies) Olympic coverage, Hockey night in Canada, etc, etc. CFJC's new, independent programming is not good news in our area, sir!! I will be contacting C.B.C. with our concern in the wildest hope that successful negotiations to resume C.B.C. content on your television station can take place.
    Like my friend, I am not happy about this and I suspect many residents of the affected areas will feel likewise. Comments, updates and corrections very welcome. And, if you want to ask CBC about this or tell them what you think about it, here's one way:

    CBC BC, programming comments and questions
    Audience Relations:
    TEL: 1-866-306-4636


    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Many local BC slaughterhouses face closure

    This is not new information but the day draws closer when your local slaughterhouse might be no more. My adage of buying food from someone you know will then become a lot more difficult to fulfill for many of us. Here's an update and some examples on how things stand now:

    Can't Slaughter Like You Used To

    Saturna Island lamb barbeque

    New meat regs may end small farmers' way of life.

    By Heather Ramsay
    Published: February 8, 2006 -

    There is a woman in Skidegate who has been buying a side of beef from Richardson Ranch on Haida Gwaii since 1955. The steaks and roasts she's been eating all these years come from animals raised on meandering grasslands by the sea; a 20 minute drive up the coast.

    Read on