Friday, August 19, 2005


Swimming up Englishman river from pool to pool, then hopping along the smooth stones and diving into the next pool, is one of my favorite summer activities. Refreshing, scenic, and rejuvenating. I noticed that this year the algae clinging to the rocks below the water is not nearly as thick and robust as last year. Most likely this decline in this slimy growth is due to the cold spring and early summer with all that rain. Branscan and Timberwest are still dumping tons of chemical fertilizers into the watershed.

While swimming up the river I came upon several campfire pits along the shore. Judging by the coals inside a ring of stones a fire had been burning there the night before underneath overhanging branches which were extremely dry. Next I found freshly cut kindling and newspapers beside another makeshift pit in the sand, again beneath tinder dry branches. The wood stacked there was all cedar, which anyone who has spent time beside a campfire knows creates sparks. Finally I found a large ring of rocks piled high with beer cans, cardboard, potato chip bags, and liquor bottles. At the head of the trail down to this swimming hole is a notice put up by the BC Forest Service stating that there is a campfire ban.

This fire ban was put in place on August 5th and is enforceable by a fine of $345. Campfires are banned anywhere south of Campbell RIver on Vancouver Island, this includes all towns, cities, rural communities, and wilderness areas. This fire ban also includes all islands in the Strait of Georgia south of Hernando Island. If you see flames or smoke do not hesitate to phone 1-800-663-5555 or using your cell *5555

All local municipalities and regional districts are in compliance with the Forest Service Ban on Campfires which only allows for gas and briquet barbecues to be fired up until further notice. BC Parks has a policy that allows the warden of any provincial park to decide about fires. This means that private contractors, who sell firewood to campers, can choose to ignore the Ban on Fires within the park boundaries. This is a change made by the BC Liberals that seems to contradict public safety standards aimed at protecting the public from fires.

Many people feel that they can control a fire and based on the fact that they have never had problems in the past, they continue to build fires. The trouble is that the risk is far too great. A little bit of a breeze, sparks from cedar or damp wood, smoldering roots beneath a fire, cigarette butts thrown out of cars, fireworks, and burning paper drifting in the wind. The fact remains that the majority of forest fires are caused by humans.

As a teen-ager I worked around Kennedy Lake when a chain dragging behind a logging truck caused enough sparks to ignite the grass along the road. The result was a forest fire that destroyed hundreds of acres of pristine forest and which took the Mars water bombers and many fire crews several days to subdue.

I have seen many instances where peer pressure plays a part in starting the fire that will become the focal point for a gathering of people, young or old. Someone has to remind the group what the real risks are and ask if anyone is really willing to be responsible for a forest fire that many destroy many homes and has the potential to kill people. You can find out how many fires are burning right now around the province at

We live in a forest that is plagued by seasonal drought. The simple reality is that now until the heavy rains of Fall come, fires are banned. Campfires, fires for ceremonial purposes, fires for heat, fires for cooking, and beach fires are all banned. Please tell your friends.