Cultural Burn Planned Near Gitanyow

Mar 21, 2024 | Climate, Programs, Wildfire

Gitanyow Lax’yip, March 21, 2024: The Gitanyow Lax’Yip Guardians, in partnership with the BC Wildfire Service, will conduct a cultural burn project approximately one kilometer south of Gitanyow.

The total area to be burned is 240 hectares, and it will be done in sections over several days. If conditions allow, the burning will begin on Friday, March 22, 2024. Smoke may be visible to the Gitanyow community, the Village of Kitwanga, and motorists along Highways 16 and 37.

This cultural burn aims to reduce hazardous fuels for community protection while supporting evacuation routes and establishing areas to engage in fire suppression. Through Indigenous-led fire management, this burn will also increase the abundance and productivity of specific food and medicinal plants, supporting the continued use of fire as a tool to improve the landscape.

This burn will also expand the knowledge and experience of the new Gitanyow fire stewardship team while working with BC Wildfire Service to build trust and capacity.

Learn about ‘Fighting Fire With Food’, a project led by Gitanyow Nation in collaboration with UBC researchers exploring how cultural burning and planting practices protect against catastrophic wildfire.

“Much of the landscape has been heavily impacted by direct forces, such as silviculture practices that decrease forage productivity for many species, and indirect forces related to climate change, such as extreme weather, including drought,” said Kevin Koch, Program Manager of the Gitanyow Lax’Yip Guardians.

“Burning will help increase forage values for a wide range of wildlife species which are all interconnected. The biodiversity that’s there evolved over thousands of years of fire being a big part of the landscape. So when you strip away managed fire, you’re taking away habitat from the species that depended on it. And by stripping away the managed fire, you promote extreme, catastrophic fire.”

“One extreme fire right now could wipe out most of the old growth in the territory,” declared Kevin.