For Immediate Release
Aug. 28, 2003

Ministry of Forests
Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection


VICTORIA - The government has upgraded a backcountry travel advisory issued
last week to a backcountry travel restriction to reduce the risk of new
human-caused fires in southern British Columbia, Forests Minister Michael de
Jong announced today.

"Public safety comes first," said de Jong. "With the continuing tinder dry
conditions and extreme fire danger in British Columbia's forests, the risks
of allowing people into the backcountry in the Southern Interior and
Southern Coast regions are just too great."

The restriction order for Crown land covers the southern one-third of the
province - from Clearwater south to the U.S. border and from south Vancouver
Island east to the Alberta border. A map of the restricted area is available
on the Ministry of Forests' Web site at Unlike the
voluntary travel advisory issued last week, this travel restriction does not
include the Cariboo region, since the forest fire risk has been downgraded

The restriction order, under section 84 of the Forest Practices Code of
British Columbia Act, covers all Crown land and Forest Service roads in the
restricted areas. Private, municipal and First Nations reserve land are
exempt from the order.

Forest Service roads accessing private property and commercial lodges remain
open. As well, roads into provincial parks that are not closed remain open.
All areas in provincial parks in the restricted areas are closed, except
supervised camping and day use-areas.

"We are confident that outdoor enthusiasts understand the extreme risk and
the need to prohibit access," said Water, Land and Air Protection Minister
Joyce Murray. "While the majority of our parks remain open, park visitors
will have to limit their activities to supervised camping and day-use."

"Although this is a serious move by the government, we are fully supportive
and recognize that public safety and fire prevention are paramount at this
time," said Council of Forest Industries vice-president Peter Affleck.

B.C. Forest Service staff, conservation officers and volunteers will be
patrolling the woods this weekend to inform people already in the
backcountry of the new travel restriction.

The travel restriction comes into effect Friday, Aug. 29 at noon and remains
in effect until Sept. 14, 2003, but may be extended if the extreme forest
fire hazard rating continues. Violators may face penalties of $10,000 and
six months imprisonment.

The B.C. Forest Service is also encouraging the public to report wildfires
by calling 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks. To report any
suspicious activity, please call the above number (1-800-663-5555 or *5555
on most cellular networks) or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

A reward of up to $50,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest
and conviction of anyone involved in deliberately setting wildfires. Arson
is a criminal offence and is punishable by significant fines and/or

For travel-related details and information on tourism and recreational
options, travellers are advised to contact 1-800-hellobc or one of 100
visitor information centres located across the province.

For more information on the specific Forest Service road closures, see the
Ministry of Forests Protection Branch Web site at
or contact the local forest district office. For specific fire ban, park and
protected areas closures and restrictions information see the B.C. Parks Web
site at