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Wildfire-prevention project will keep Okanagan communities safe, protect water supply, province says

May 8, 2024 
By FFIC Staff

May 8, 2024, Vernon, B.C. – The B.C. government is working with the Regional District of North Okanagan, the District of Lake Country, and the Okanagan Indian Band to protect the primary water source for Lake Country and the Greater Vernon area from the risk of wildfire.

“Many people in the Okanagan depend on the North Aberdeen Plateau for their drinking water,” said Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston in a press release. “We know that the risk of a wildfire in the area could have very real impacts on the water people depend on, which is why we are taking action to protect this resource now and for future generations. Local partners have put in significant work to get us to this point and our government is proud to support getting this important project underway immediately.”

The North Aberdeen Plateau hosts critical natural resources and is a high priority for wildfire mitigation. The $15 million investment from the ministry will facilitate a project team to begin planning and implementing fire-mitigation prescriptions to protect water, water infrastructure, and cultural heritage values in the North Aberdeen Plateau.

The first phase of this multi-year project is slated to begin immediately, with fire-mitigation work including removing flammable woody material, thinning or pruning stands, and removing fallen or dead debris in order to slow or stop the spread of wildfire.


The plateau is a water source for 18,000 people and agriculture producers in Lake Country, as well as a water source for the Greater Vernon Water Utility, which provides domestic and agricultural water to approximately 71,000 people in Vernon and Coldstream.

“As a community that has been recently and historically affected by wildfires, we are intimately aware of the need for more wildfire-mitigation procedures being implemented,” said Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band in a news statement. “While we would like to see more focus on culturally appropriate Syilx wildfire-mitigation practices, we’re happy to collaborate with our project partners to take positive steps toward protecting our land and water. It can’t be understated how important water is as a resource.”

In April 2024, Premier David Eby’s task force on emergencies released a summary of its recommendations, which included developing landscape-level, partnership-based resilience investment projects to demonstrate how to deliver risk reduction in the natural and built environment at the watershed scale.

The province continues to implement recommendations from the task force to help prepare for wildfire season.

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