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Vol. 103 No. 8


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The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 AUGUST 2017 | Vol. 103 No. 8 Wildfires put hundreds of ranchers at risk by PETER MITHAM WILLIAMS LAKE – An unprecedented spate of

wildfires that erupted across the central Interior in early July has put ranchers throughout BC on tenterhooks, wondering what the remainder of the summer will bring. Dry lightning west of Williams Lake sparked more than 140 wildfires on July 7 alone, faster than the BC Wildfire Service could record them.

“It’s sort of unprecedented,” says Kevin Boon, general manager of the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) in Kamloops. “It’s one thing when you get one or two fires started, but when you get 150 in one day, it really changes things.” As this edition went to press, there were more than 150 wildfires burning larger than 1,075 square feet (0.01 hectares). Together with extinguished fires, they represented more than a million acres of scorched earth, rangeland and forest. The July fires

displaced nearly 50,000 people at their peak, and the BCCA estimated that more than 10,000 cattle – not to mention horses and other livestock – were at risk. Many animals were evacuated to Prince George and Williams Lake, but when Williams Lake was evacuated July 14, many owners faced tough decisions. “The ranchers are trying to stay on the ranches as

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Riske Creek cowboys Mike Jasper and Jeff Taylor move cattle along Highway 20 to get them out of danger between two active wildfires July 12 at both Lee’s Corner and Riske Creek. Those fires have since joined and are spread out over more than 138,000 hectares in the heart of ranching country in the Chilcotin. ANGIE MINDUS / WILLIAMS LAKE TRIBUNE PHOTO

Growing more with less water Popham appointed ag minister


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kiss goodnight, the BC Liberals fell in a vote of non- confidence on June 29 and relinquished the reins of government to the BC NDP, which had successfully formed a coalition with the BC Green party. It was a pivotal episode in BC political history – one that saw BC rancher and Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon make the final decision about who would have the opportunity to


John Horgan and his NDP cabinet were sworn in on July 18, switching from the opposition to government benches for the first time in 16 years. The shift saw Saanich South MLA Lana Popham finally realize her dream of becoming agriculture minister after four years as ag critic. “I feel so grateful for this

opportunity. It's something I've really hoped for a long time,” says Popham. “There's so much opportunity for

agriculture in BC that I don't think we've harnessed. There are obviously challenges, and that's not going to change, but how we embrace the opportunities is something that we are going to do differently and I cannot wait to get started.”

The BC NDP ran on a very specific agriculture platform with three key themes. Grow BC focuses on securing the agricultural land base and strengthening the

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