Prescribed Burns

Project Overview:

The Okanagan Nation Alliance Natural Resource Department is pleased support the important role of Syilx (Okanagan) communities’ responsibility to re-establish prescribed fire on the Okanagan Landscape. Active fire suppression has led to extreme fuel loading and vegetation ingrowth throughout Syilx (Okanagan) Territory. Combined with climate change, fire suppression has led to longer, more intense, and more destructive wildfire seasons and a less resilient forest and grassland ecosystem. A less resilient ecosystem degrades cultural and social values, increases threats to communities and infrastructure and provides fewer natural resources.

Traditionally, the open forest and grassland ecosystems found in the Okanagan-Similkameen areas were maintained by low intensity, controlled burns, lit and managed by the Syilx (Okanagan) people. Cikilaxwm is the word for traditional burning of the land for the health of our Timixw , which is our land and resources. In today’s climate, we also burn for the safety and security of our communities and the people who live on this landscape.

Syilx (Okanagan) communities will work to re-establish prescribed fire on the Okanagan landscape in Syilx (Okanagan) Territory. On April 25th, the Penticton Indian Band successfully ignited the first prescribed burn through this program, enhancing important wildlife habitat and reducing the risk of fire to nearby communities in the Garnet Valley. Syilx communities have begun to put ‘good fire’ back on the landscape, thanks in part to support and collaboration from FESBC, the Ministry of FLNRORD and the BC Wildfire Service throughout 2016 and 2017.

In the fall of 2017, Syilx (Okanagan) communities worked together with the ONA Natural Resources Department to develop a project that will move Cikilaxwm back onto the landscape on a meaningful, Territory wide scale. The project has a number of 2018 objectives, including continued support for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band in the Ashnola Valley and Penticton Indian Band in the Garnet Valley. The project also supports the development of a Syilx (Okanagan) Prescribed Fire Working Group and a collaborative Okanagan Prescribed Fire Steering Committee. Over the 2018 season, the working group and committee will aim to develop phase 1 of a Syilx (Okanagan) prescribed fire framework, while continuing to support Syilx (Okanagan) communities in the development and implementation of priorities related to Cikilaxwm.

 

Project goals can be broken down into three categories:

 

  • To establish a Syilx Cikilaxwm working group, and a collaborative Okanagan Prescribed Fire steering committee, led by Syilx communities.
  • To support Syilx communities to develop and implement prescribed fire objectives and projects.
  • To provide a platform for relationship building and meaningful, collectively developed landscape management objectives, specifically as they apply to the use of prescribed fire to protect and enhance values and resources.
“The reasons we used to be able to walk through these kinds of forests with just moccasins on is because we used to keep it so clean” –Pierre Kruger, speaking in the Garnet Valley in 2016 about the cleaning the forest using controlled fire.

Project Goals:

In the fall of 2017, Syilx (Okanagan) communities worked together with the ONA Natural Resources Department to develop a project that will move Cikilaxwm back onto the landscape on a meaningful, Territory wide scale. The project has a number of 2018 objectives, including continued support for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band in the Ashnola Valley and Penticton Indian Band in the Garnet Valley. The project also supports the development of a Syilx (Okanagan) Prescribed Fire Working Group and a collaborative Okanagan Prescribed Fire Steering Committee. Over the 2018 season, the working group and committee will aim to develop phase 1 of a Syilx (Okanagan) prescribed fire framework, while continuing to support Syilx (Okanagan) communities in the development and implementation of priorities related to cikilaxwm.

Project goals can be broken down into three categories:

  • To establish a Syilx Cikilaxwm working group, and a collaborative Okanagan Prescribed Fire steering committee, led by Syilx communities.
  • To support Syilx communities to develop and implement prescribed fire objectives and projects.
  • To provide a platform for relationship building and meaningful, collectively developed landscape management objectives, specifically as they apply to the use of prescribed fire to protect and enhance values and resources.

Project Media:

Project Progress/Status:

Ongoing

Project Team:

Team Lead: Cailyn Glaser, MSc, ONA Wildlife Biologist

Project Partnerships:

Okanagan Nation Member communities (PIB, LSIB)
Forest Enhancement Society of BC
Province of BC
BC Wildfire Service

 

 

Related Project(s):