Okanagan – Planning & Information Exchange for Wildfire Impact Reduction [ok05]
|Status||completed in 2018|
|Project Lead||Southern Interior Stockmen's Association|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Cattle Industry Development Council, Regional District Central Okanagan|
|Other Partners||Regional District Okanagan Similkameen|
The Okanagan has experienced several severe wildfire seasons over the past decade and with climate change projections including more prolonged warm and dry periods during summer, as well as more extreme wildfire weather (combined effect of temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and precipitation), it is anticipated that the number and severity of wildfires will increase in the future.
Wildfires threaten immediate agricultural production capacity including livestock, range and crop health and agricultural infrastructure. Due to the potential for negative impacts to agriculture, addressing wildfire risks was identified as a priority for adaptation actions in the Okanagan. This project focused on wildfire risk reduction both at the farm-level and at the response agency/broader communications level.
To assist producers in fire-smarting their operations and preparing for a wildfire emergency, this project produced a farm-level Agricultural Wildfire Preparedness & Mitigation Workbook & Guide (combining the strongest elements of similar farm-level resources developed for the Cariboo and the Cowichan, and enhancing the content with new modules). The workbook and guide can be used by all producers – large and small, from all commodities – and consists of a series of modules focusing on planning/activities to undertake before a wildfire, during a wildfire and after a wildfire. Okanagan producers can access an Okanagan version of the workbook and guide which includes Okanagan specific information, while producers from across BC can access the provincial workbook and guide.
Through extensive consultation with the agricultural community (including a focus group), the project also produced a Discussion Document that identifies challenges (and solutions) relating to communications and information flow between producers and response agencies, before and during wildfire events. Through the consultation process, it was identified that pre-season communication and preparedness planning offers the greatest potential for implementable solutions in the near term that may start to address some of the other communication issues experienced during wildfire (particularly around suppression operations, evacuation and permitted re-entry protocols). The report identifies impactful solutions with the greatest potential for local implementation, as well as activities that are driven by the agricultural sector or that directly engage producers, with nine actions prioritized for possible near-term implementation.