Now that the wildfire is contained, what happens to Burns Bog?

July 11, 2016


Now that crews have contained the 78 hectare wildfire that has been burning in Burns Bog since Sunday afternoon, ecological experts are anxious to visit the site so they can survey the damage.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said it is essential the recovery of the bog is guided by science.

“We determined that we had to have a Scientific Advisory Panel to oversee the bog and we have one of those,” said Jackson.

“We will meet with them as soon as we can.”

Dr. Richard Hebda with the Royal B.C. Museum is an expert on the bog.

He is concerned that if the bog floor has been damaged, it will open the door for invasive species to move in.

“It’s like you’re scraping your hand, you create a wound on the surface and it’s a perfect place for bacteria to grow. Well, you can think of these invasive species in a similar manner,” he said.

“Before the healing takes place of native species, birches can get in there and pump out thousands of seeds onto the landscape and take over the trajectory of the recovery of the bog as we want it.”

Public Access?

Jackson is urging people to stay away from the site.

She says humans can cause major damage to the fragile ecosystem.

However, Burns Bog Conservation Society President Eliza Olson believes people would have a greater appreciation of the bog if they were allowed to see it.

“I can see where the mayor is coming from but I believe that we need controlled access because people are curious about what is in the bog,” she says.

“They’ve seen beautiful pictures and they want to see if that’s true.”

Hebda said the public has a much greater understanding of how unique the area is than in the early 2000’s, partly because of an even bigger wildfire that tore through the bog in 2005.

“People recognize and understand that raised bogs, and this bog in particular, are very special places,” Hebda said.

“You’re not asking if the bog is important, you already know that it’s important in the back of your head, even if you don’t know all of the details.”


Your comments.

  1. Marg Carruthers says:

    People carry seeds of all kinds of weeds on their footwear and their clothes. It’s probably better to ask people to stay off the site for a while.

  2. Eliza Olson says:

    I appreciate the comments about invasive species and I certainly don’t recommend anyone going into the burned out area at this time. What’s a greater danger to the bog is not people going in on a controlled basis, it is development on the “lagg” of Burns Bog. E.G. 155 acres owned by MK Delta. It is part of the “missing 500 acres” that Jack Mathews refused to sell in 2004 to 4 levels of government. The 2000 Burns Bog Ecosystem Review did not consider these 500 acres essential to the protection of the 5000 acres that became the Conservancy Area. I am quite confident that will all the knowledge gained since 2000, the writer’s of the Ecosystem Review would make the same statement in 2016. I urge anyone worried about climate change–and especially in light of the fires in Fort McMurray and Burns Bog, to go to the Burns Bog Conservation Society’s website; read the information on the MK Delta proposal, and the petition. The Society has already received international support in opposing MK Delta’s plan to turn 155 acres of regenerating bogland into an industrial site. This proposal is not consistent with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Canada signed onto at COP 21 in France, October 2015. 7 of the 17 goals either impact or affect our disappearing wetlands.

  3. Eliza Olson says:

    Correction:” I am quite confident that…the writer’s of the Ecosystem Review would NOT make the same statement in 2016…”

  4. Steven Faraher-Amidon says:

    It is important that the work to protect the bog continues; so the public must be careful, and, as of now, it is illegal to go in anyway. Except for the Delta Nature Reserve, which is actually ancillary to the bog. However, the support for the bog requires understanding, and a first part is to actually see it and get a sense of what it is like. That will only occur if officials such as the CVRD support a process to allow access and only then will support be actualized into better understanding of the environmental importance of the Bog as a conduit for CO2 and for many other things including as a habitat location for animals and hundreds of creatures which inhabit it. The “Lungs of the Lower Mainland’, should be reinforced as a source of importance; that will occur more when people understand it better first hand. Keeping it a mystery makes it easier for politicians to use it for political benefit. The Bog was purchased with public tax money; people should be able to see how their tax dollars are being used.

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