is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada
called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain
ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full
of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity
to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without
Wilderness Adventures - July, Week One/2010
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of the Day.
Fire Lookout Situation
seem to be back to square one regarding our fire lookouts
again this year, something that's concerning everyone.
now we have a beautiful chopper based on Nimpo with a
water tank on it. I'm assuming it is also carrying an
Initial Attack crew for forest fires. At least I hope
so because as far as I know, we don't have anyone in the
lookout again this year. There certainly wasn't anyone
there a couple of weeks ago when the neighbours went up
to fix the radio station. I received an email from a woman
that was the lookout at Chilanko and Alex Graham for 20
years and I would say she was very poorly treated. She
was kind enough to give me permission to reprint her email
here verifying everything I was saying last year while
fighting for our lookouts. You have got to read this to
believe what a bunch of obnoxious doorknobs are running
our fire center now.
"Hello, just a few comments on the Cariboo Fire
Centres lack of Lookouts, I worked on a Chilcotin lookout
for 20 years. I now work for Alberta SRD on a lookout
tower. Last spring I received a phone call and was told
due to budget changes we would not be recalled, but an
amazing thing happened. The day after my 9 month recall
rights with the union ran out I got a call here in Alberta
to go back to work on Alex Graham. But would now be ON
A AS AND WHEN HIRE with no union rights whatsoever....
no thanks...so basically the country last year was allowed
to burn until my recall rights ran out. You see, they
couldn't hire a lookout til mine ran out, as I had seniority!!!!
As far as I am concerned, the changes that they seem to
do to SAVE the taxpayers money, sure cost a lot last year.
Never mind the homes and lives that were destroyed because
of the fires. I know if we were on the job, it would have
been alot less, no way to know how much but some for sure.
I have reported hundreds of fires over the years that
were put out quickly, and they all had potential to be
huge. And you know in the big scheme of things, lookout
towers do not cost the gov't that much. We were paid 8
hrs a day, for working a min of 12 hrs. In my opinion,
the gov't sure got its money's worth out of us!!! I am
sorry that the Chilcotin, with its volatile fuels, and
dry grasslands has to burn up before anything is done.
And I do know what you mean when you say you have tried
to bring this to powers that be's attn,,, I tried also...all
for nothing...and not just because I was losing my job.
I love the country and the people. I lived and worked
in the Cariboo/Chilcotin my whole life, and must say I
miss the mountains. But here in Alberta they still believe
in LOOKOUTS, we still have 128 active...................................Good
luck...wishing you all a quiet fire season.... "
for saving money... that's not why the Cariboo Fire Center
pulled the stunt they did. It's because the new majestic
leader that took over screwed up on the full time positions
normally used for the lookouts and so could only use part
time as and when hires for the lookouts. But, in order
to do that, he had to get rid of the regular lookouts
first, and he couldn't do that until after
their nine month recall was up. As I understood it from
my sources, when he was promoted to running the CFC, he
gave those full time positions away in winter of 2009
to other fire centers to make himself look good. Which
would also explain why the fire center he came from where
he was just a lackey was so relieved to see him go.
From all accounts, this guy may not be a good addition
to the human gene pool.
I've had a few people ask about the lookout wondering
if I'll go to bat again to get our lookout here. I'm debating
that. The Cariboo Fire Center knows that
we need a lookout as does the rest of the Chilcotin. They
know the whole country is like a powder
keg ready to go up and regardless of what they may claim
to the contrary, they know that lookouts
make a big difference. So the way I look at it at this
point in time is if we have fires and people lose
their homes, I think a class action lawsuit against the
fire center and that ding dong running it would be pretty
legitimate, and I know just the lawyer that would
love to take it on. Rather than beat our heads against
the wall, I think hitting them in their pocket book will
hurt a lot more. And if lives are lost?? Then I think
there's a case there for criminal negligence. So unless
I get steamed, I'm just gonna relax on that point this
summer and wait for something to bury them with.
In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Forests was on TV a
couple of weeks ago promoting the MF's idea of reducing
the size of campfires from three feet in size to one and
a half feet in size. Has it occurred to anyone that
it's not the size of a the campfire that causes forest
fires? It's because they weren't put out properly
or left unattended. Size certainly isn't going to change
that. I'm sure they'll be putting campfire bans on soon
as well. But they're pretty foolish the way they do that
Rather than put bans on in specific areas that are dry,
now they do these blanket bans. We still had a campfire
ban on last fall after we had several snow falls!
There was a time when people took it pretty seriously
when a ban went on but now, why would they? It's
kind of like crying wolf too many times. When we were
north of Prince George last year, it was hotter than Hades
here and there was a province wide ban. We went into this
campground and everyone had campfires. We're king of going,
"What???" We knew about the ban so we didn't
have a fire, (the only ones) but we did ask the hosts
what was going on and after we took the dogs for a walk
we could see what they meant. Apparently it had been a
really wet summer and the bushes were just dripping with
water. Why should anyone follow a ban under those circumstances??
You couldn't have started a forest fire if you had tried.
No way! So I really think the Ministry of Forests
is going to lose credibility on this score and eventually
it will be challenged in court, particularly in
view of the size of the fines. If I'm sitting at a campfire
with snow on the ground, or wet woods during a fire ban,
charge me and I will take it to court. I think that the
problem here is a province that's broke, spent too much
money on the Olympics, and didn't have money in a contingency
fund for a bad forest fire year like last year. So they
try to take the stupid way out. "Let's cut
down the size of campfires and put on bans at the first
hint of a fire season and we won't have fires".
That would work except that on the news last night it
was stated that 20 fires were human caused in the province
this year. That's out of about 400 fires so far. That
just is not a large percentage of human caused fires and
the cost is way too high when you consider how detrimental
that can be to our tourism. Lots of folks expect to be
able to have a camp fire when they go on vacation. It's
really important to many people and they resent it a lot
when they can't have one. In view of the significance
of our tourism industry to the province, I think that
Ministry of Forests needs to sit down and rethink how
it goes about doing business.
been having to go down to Bella Coola on a weekly basis
and we've seen bears every time. The week before
last we saw eight bears again, including the grizzly sow
and her cubs, but last week I think we only saw
four, and they were all black bears. Well, the one brown
bear with his traveling companion but even with his color,
he's still a black bear. On the other hand, we're pretty
sure his companion is a dog crossed with a bear. It's
the weirdest looking bear you've ever seen. It looks like
one of those Asian bears with long ears, pointy nose,
and long, long hair. He's pretty skinny so he's probably
a really old bear. Maybe they all look like that when
they get old, but I've certainly never seen one quite
like this before. Check out his pic up on the right. By
contrast, shortly after we saw the shaggy bear we saw
a big black ambling down the Hill and he was fat!
The week before last we were running a little late and
although we saw a vehicle parked on the side of the road
with its driver taking pictures, we didn't have the time
to slow down and see what they were looking at. We figured
it was probably the grizzly sow and her cubs since it
was in her territory, and sure enough, it was. When we
came back up the hill she and her cubs were just across
the road from that spot at the East Branch pullout where
the Heckman Fire was. That's the jumping off point for
snowmobilers in the winter time. As usual, she was pretty
complacent about our presence, although we didn't drive
all that close because we didn't want to get between
her and her cubs after she crossed the pullout.
We watched as the cubs eventually followed her, one of
them doing an investigative stretch up the side of the
raised outhouse there. Wouldn't that be a surprise for
any poor soul that might have unknowingly gone inside
only to come back out to three grizzlies!
Last week when we went down to Bella Coola, almost right
from Anahim Lake I was sure I could see a pink/yellow
tinge to the clouds to the northwest. I kept an eye on
it as we drove and sure enough, the closer we got to the
Tweedsmuir Park boundary the easier it was to see what
looked like a column of smoke. I kept an eye on
the same location after we came back up the Hill and before
long I saw the tell tale streak of smoke scattered for
a long distance behind the Rainbow Mountains.
I'm guessing it was started the night before by a lightning
strike. We didn't hear a word about it on the news until
tonight, though, when they said it was about a 500 hectare
fire and that it would be allowed to burn. Makes sense
to me. It's in a very isolated location in the park with
no assets or structures to burn and it wouldn't hurt to
burn up some of that beetle kill. I'll have more on fires
in tomorrow's blog.
We're still really, really dry. Other than a little sprinkle
that didn't even register in the rain gauge a week ago,
we've received no rain since the last blog and the weather
has been hot and dry. I think what's saving us from lightning
strikes right now though is that there is no moisture
for the weather systems coming in from the west to pick
up and form thunderheads. The systems usually reach Williams
Lake or the Blackwater before they've picked up enough
moisture to form thunderstorms. Mind you, that's
just conjecture and I could be totally wrong. I have been
As often happens because of the way the weather systems
move, there's another forest fire around Kluskus according
to the newscaster tonight. It said there was no danger
to homes so far and I can't imagine there is. I think
that's where a number of people had to be evacuated last
year because of a forest fire. I shouldn't think there
would be much left to burn around the community.
Just a reminder to you pilots out there. The BC
Floatplane Association AGM is this coming weekend
at Terry's Hangar on the north end of Nimpo Lake as usual.
For more information, check out the BCFA website.
The Anahim Lake Stampede was on this weekend and I'm assuming
it was a success. Hopefully no disaster befell it as it
did at Valemont this weekend when that 18 year old bull
rider was killed when the bull stepped on him. That's
just a sorry thing to have happen but it is a dangerous
Last month's posting can be found at June
The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a
remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a
beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search
engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim
Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities
in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large
as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough
room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible
country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip
of the iceberg, so join me!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!