Cariboo First Nation bans mushroom harvest in fire area

?Esdilagh First Nation cites environmental, cultural concerns over landscape

The ?Esdilagh First Nation (Alexandria), between Quesnel and Williams Lake, is banning mushroom picking from certain parts of their traditional territory impacted by wildfire this summer.

Citing concerns over the sensitivity of the area, and past experiences with mushroom pickers, the nation is instituting a “No Go Zone” in the region affected by the West Fraser Complex wildfire area, near the West Fraser Road.

The area is slightly to the south-west of the band, and includes the Castle Rock/Twan Lake South Wildfire area, near Tingley Lake, Twan Lake and Mcqoi Lake.

“We are stewards of the land and waters,” says Chief Victor (Roy) Stump.

“We expect all visitors to respect this No Go Zone for harvesters in 2018, and the decisions of our land officers in the field.”

Morel mushrooms – a delicacy – pop up in abundance during the spring in the year after a wildfire, growing in the places the fire has burned. The mushroom often draws traveling mushroom harvesters to wildfire-affected areas, eager to find and sell the tasty fungi.

While the band is banning mushroom pickers from the West Fraser Complex, they are offering permits for harvesting and camping for both mushroom pickers and buyers operating in ?Esdilagh territory, provided they are operating in areas burned by other fires. The nation is encouraging pickers to head to areas less sensitive to them, like the Plateau Fire, which burned an estimated 521,012 hectares in the Chilcotin over the summer.

They want to protect the West Fraser Complex area for reasons both ecological, and cultural.

The lakes are important for both the endangered pelican species and as moose habitat — ?Esdilagh instituted a ban on the moose hunt during the fall of 2017.

Additionally, the area includes traditional burying grounds the nation also wants to protect.

“We don’t want to put any more pressure in that area where there has been destruction by the fir beetle. The wildfire ripped through last year and hit so many hectares of it, and we are already at a declining moose population – that is proven,” says ?Esdilagh band manager and mushroom committee member Chad Stump.

“We have so much road access into ?Esdilagh’s territory and we just cant allow it to happen any more. We have to step up to the plate and be the first ones to say enough is enough.”

In 2010, when the Meldrum Creek fire approached ?Esdilagh territory, the band saw mushroom pickers come the following year, creating what Stump calls a “mess.”

“The fear is not that mushrooms are going to be damaged, the fear is that other people will come and make the mess and damage the already damaged habitat, and poach what moose we have left, poach animals, bring harmful substances to our communities and do these illegal activities out on the land on which we use to live.”

Stump said the plan is to enforce the ban through an agreement they have with the RCMP and conservation officers, and that ?Esdilagh is also reaching out to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Chief Victor Stump is calling on the government to use the ban as an opportunity to move forward with reconciliation and to work together with the public and governments.

The band is also in the planning stages of training community members as land officers, in back roads safety, first aid, approaches to dealing with certain situations, and how to guide and monitor potential pickers to areas where they will be allowed to harvest.

“What it really boils down to is that this specific area is all we have left in regards to our traditional area,” says Daryl Johnny, who is managing the mushroom committee.

“Industry has wiped out the rest of our area, with harvesting the pine bug, and now that the fir bug is coming, the declining of the moose population, we are losing our fish habitat — we are losing every single thing our resources relied on, what we’ve lived on all our lives. This is our last time to step up.”

 

A map showing the mushroom-picking ban area. Courtesy of ?Esdilagh First Nation

Just Posted

Good attendance at picnic for Autism Awareness Month

Looking for community input for a similar event next year

CRD encourages residents to prepare for spring melt

High stream flows, flooding, debris flows, high water tables or landslides could occur so residents should be prepared

Increase in property crime, caution urged handling street drugs

The weekly police report for the South Cariboo area

New Parkside exhibit full of feathers

‘You don’t expect miracles but this to me is miraculous’

Smoke between Gateway and 100 Mile House

(UPDATE: April 23, 10:10 a.m.) 100 Mile Fire Rescue at the scene until 7 p.m.

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. man arrested in cross-border drug smuggling operation

William Milton Barnes of Victoria faces multiple charges

Political heavyweights hit Washington in hunt for NAFTA deal

Officials from Prime Minister’s office, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland part of talks

Greenbelt Microgreens recall in B.C., Alberta, due to Listeria concerns

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says there have been no illnesses linked to the microgreens

Commit to harassment-free environment or forego federal arts funding: Joly

$552,000 coming from feds for training so arts organizations build, maintain respectful workplaces

Aquilini-linked ranch fined $70,000 for storing cranes on farmland

Pitt Meadows council supporting application to Agricultural Land Commission

Minister calls out misogyny, but PM says too soon to talk motive in van attack

Alek Minassian is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder

Decorated Canadian pairs skaters Duhamel and Radford officially retire

The Ontario duo took bronze in pairs at the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea

Most Read