Shuswap wildfire activist holding forum about Bush Creek East blaze | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Shuswap wildfire activist holding forum about Bush Creek East blaze

The Bush Creek East wildfire got close to a residential house in the Shuswap on August 18.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Angie Laryea

Shuswap activist Jim Cooperman will be speaking at Thompson Rivers University this week and the subject is wildfire.

More specifically the Bush Creek East wildfire that tore through the Shuswap last summer devastating several communities and destroying 176 structures.

The forum, called Shuswap Firestorm, is another step in the Lee Creek resident’s quest for an investigation on how the wildfire was managed.

“From our perspective we’d like to see an investigation done to find out if what (the wildfire service) did indeed burned us down,” he said. “All of my research points to that for sure but the government is the last person that wants to admit it, they want these problems swept under the carpet.”

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Cooperman said BC Wildfire Service made mistakes in how it attacked the Bush Creek East wildfire and is demanding big changes and improvements be made in how wildfires are managed in the future.

He'll be joined by other speakers with experience in wildfire and forestry, and is expecting a big turnout.

“I’ll be talking about the back burn and what’s in our petitions and a well-respected rancher and logger Karl Bischoff will be speaking. He was one of the key people that stayed behind and worked all day building a fire break that protected many properties,” he said.

Columbia Shuswap regional district director Jay Simpson will be discussing his concerns about the evacuation and a retired professional forester from West Kelowna, Allan Willcocks, will speak on forest management and wildfires.

Last month, Cooperman presented a petition to Premier David Eby that calls for investigations into the Bush Creek East and McDougall Creek wildfires and changes to future forest and wildfire management. 

Jim Cooperman delivers his petition to the legislature in Victoria on Feb. 12, 2024.
Jim Cooperman delivers his petition to the legislature in Victoria on Feb. 12, 2024.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/

The petition also demanded collaboration with local contractors and landowners, something the wildfire service does, but those who aren't already partnered with the wildfire service when an evacuation order is delivered are unlikely to be allowed in to work, if at all. Cooperman also reached out to the Forest Practises Board and said they're doing an investigation on that wildfire service policy.

An official with the Ministry of Forests told him they're waiting for the recommendations from a provincial task force to come out.

“It all has to do with money, the BC Wildfire Service is to create good paying jobs for employees and students, it’s a money-making thing and it has to do with the unions," he said.

"They don’t want a contractor to put out a fire, then they don’t have any work. That’s what it appears to be about.”

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He said if the changes he wants aren't made to forestry and wildfire management things could get worse every year.

"It doesn't have to be this tragic, wasteful and devastating, if only the government can be convinced to overhaul the wildfire service," he said.

The forum will take place on Wednesday, March 6, at the Alumni Theatre at Thompson Rivers University. You can find more information about the event here.

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