Wildlife management area closure expands near Okanagan Falls

The Thomas Creek wildfire is seen from the air in an image posted by the BC Wildfire Service. (Twitter/BCGovFireInfo)

Areas within McTaggart-Cowan/nsək'łniw't wildlife management area (WMA) damaged by this year's Thomas Creek fire have been closed to all public use.

This will expand the area in the WMA that is closed due to the 2020 Christie Mountain fire.

The Thomas Creek fire that occurred over the summer has severely damaged a portion of the McTaggart-Cowan/nsək'łniw't WMA. In response to this vulnerability, the burned area is closed to the public. The entire WMA is also closed to mushroom picking, camping and motor-vehicle use.

While wildfire is a natural part of the landscape and important in maintaining productive wildlife habitat, recently burned areas are highly sensitive and vulnerable to impacts from public use. This temporary closure will continue until the threat to wildlife and the habitat is lessened.

The closure does not apply to most uses where a legal permit or tenure has been obtained or to Indigenous uses for food, social, cultural or ceremonial activities. The Penticton Indian Band and the Province are collaborating to assess and monitor public use in the WMA following the wildfire.

Known as nsək'łniw't in the Okanagan/Syilx language (in the English language, this Syilx placename refers to the gash on the side of the mountain and describes an important Syilx Nation trail), the area has been protected by the Syilx people since time immemorial and holds significant cultural value.