Only you can prevent forest fires. That's what Smokey the Bear told me when I was a kid. But now that I'm older, I know Smokey the Bear was a liar. According to the provincial government, just 28 percent of the blazes during last year's catastrophic forest fire season were human-caused. The rest were caused by lightning. So while I applaud Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell for encouraging British Columbians to take better care while enjoying the province's backcountry, it's important for us to ask whether the government has been doing enough to prevent forest fires.
After all, you don't have the money to fund the multimillion dollar fuel treatment projects that will reduce the chances or severity of those blazes. But the government does. Yet it didn't act to remove the $500,000 annual funding cap on those projects this past spring - a decision the Campbell administration may come to regret as the fire season takes a turn for the worse.