It’s a timely topic after all the wildfires we have experienced in the Cariboo the past two summers.
The BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative is hosting an agriculture and wildfire risk reduction workshop aimed at agricultural producers from all sectors, wildfire response and emergency personnel and local government representatives Thursday, Jan. 31 at the Quesnel Fire Hall.
Patrick Steiner with the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative, who is one of two facilitators for the BC Farm and Ranch Wildfire Preparedness Workshop, says it was “really important” for them to bring this workshop to the Cariboo.
“You guys are in the fire hotspot of B.C. — the vast majority of wildfires that happened in 2017 and 2018 happened in your neck of the woods — so it makes sense to for sure deliver workshops there,” he says.
During the upcoming workshop, producers will gain knowledge to prepare themselves and their operations for wildfires and to maximize the efficacy and safety of local emergency response.
“We’re going to be giving them an overview of local wildfire history, what the wildfire threat is from a scientific point of view, and just sort of overall learning about wildfire behaviour — how does wildfire work and what is the threat to their operations from it,” says Steiner. “They’re going to learn all about that and then learn what can they do as producers to help prepare and mitigate against that to protect their properties the most possible.”
Producers will also be given a workbook in which they will answer questions and fill out forms that will help walk them through the development of a wildfire preparation plan for their operation.
“They’ll leave with that, not completed of course, but we’ll be looking at different sections of it and explaining things, and it’s something they would do then on their own time,” explains Steiner. “The idea then is that part of the workbook is there is a short two-page summary that they fill in, and they can actually share that information, voluntarily if they want to, with fire response and emergency response agencies in the area so those agencies would know more about the operation and be able to respond quicker to help an operation in case of a wildfire. So that’s very practical.”
Representatives from government agencies, BC Wildfire Service, the Cariboo Regional District and Ministry of Agriculture regional agrologists have been invited to be part of the workshop.
“We’re inviting them to attend these workshops to introduce themselves to producers and to let producers know what their role is in a wildfire and how it relates to people in the agriculture sector and at the same time to open up a line of communication,” says Steiner. “Those people may want to ask producers for certain information that helps them do a better job at responding to wildfires and helping to protect farms and ranches.”
The BC Farm and Ranch Wildfire Preparedness Workshop runs Jan. 31 at the Quesnel Fire Hall. Registration is from 8:30-9 a.m., and the workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Registration is free, and anyone interested in attending is encouraged to register early at eventbrite.com/e/bc-farm-ranch-wildfire-preparedness-workshops-tickets-54142703283.
“We decided to hold it at this time of year so people can, I think we all anticipate that these kind of wildfire events are becoming the norm and the reality in the summer, and it would be lovely to think it wouldn’t happen in 2019, but at some time, it’s going to happen in the area, and by getting ahead on things and making preparations in advance, farmers and ranchers in the area, they will feel a lot more secure that they’ve done what they can to reduce their risk,” says Steiner. “That’s what this workshop is all about — people learning how to reduce the risk of a wildfire in their area causing a personal catastrophe for them where everything is burnt. There are a lot of mitigation and preparation measures that can reduce the chance that even if a wildfire rolls through the area, that you lose your structures, that you lose all your valuable assets, so that’s what this workshop goes through.”
Steiner says there has been a lot of interest, and a dozen producers have already registered.
“I think it’s really important, and obviously people seem to think that as well by the people signing up right away,” he says.
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