Skip to main content

Wilden landowners urge extra caution when entering fire-affected areas.

“It is not only dangerous to walk off-trail, but it also interferes with ground-recovery, the emergence of fresh vegetation, and the hungry wildlife feeding on it”, explains Karin Eger-Blenk, representative of the Blenk family, owners of the Wilden land.

On August 17th, 2023, when the wildfire in West Kelowna jumped the lake, it landed directly below Wilden Ridge and scorched approximately 500 acres of Wilden’s natural space. Fortunately, the landowners had prioritized fire mitigation efforts over the past seven years, which kept the fire from burning to the tree crowns and kept it manageable for firefighting crews. Apart from a cabin on Wilden Ridge, no structures were lost in the blaze. Although the fire burned right up to some of the neighbourhood boundaries, all homes were saved.

There are a number of key takeaways in this update that we would like to share at a high level before you dive deeper into reading. All side roads and single trails are CLOSED!. They and the entire Wilden area are under camera surveillance that are continuously monitored. Please respect these closures, sticking to main roads to minimize ecological impact. Nature needs time to regenerate, especially in spring when wild animals require space and security to nurture their offspring. We ask that dogs are kept under control, both on and off-leash, ensuring that they do not wander off into restricted areas or disturb wildlife. Let’s embark on our adventures with mindfulness, preserving Wilden’s natural beauty for generations to come, fostering a sustainable and respectful relationship with our surroundings.

Following the advice of forestry experts, the affected area was closed for recreational use over the winter months due to hazardous conditions. Starting in early March this year, restoration crews have been working in the damaged areas to fallen trees that had no chance of survival and clear burnt fuel from the ground. They have also closely monitored trail safety.

Prior to the fire, residents of Wilden utilized the trail network behind their neighbourhoods for hiking and biking. While most neighbours respected the temporary closure, everyone is now eager to resume outdoor activities.

The “Do Not Enter” signs have recently been removed from the main trails. However, everyone is reminded that they enter the trails at their own risk and should stay on the larger trail/road networks. It is important not to enter areas marked with “no trespassing” signs, as they indicate unsafe terrain. In areas that remain closed off, there is a high risk that trees, which may appear healthy on the outside, have burned from the roots and could fall over time.

The burned ground is now full of nutrients and fresh green vegetation is breaking through.

Giving Nature Time to Heal

Lori Daniels is a professor at the UBC Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences and the Koerner Chair in Wildfire Coexistence. She inspected burned forests in the Wilden area in mid-March and urges everyone who uses the Wilden back country for recreation, not to wander off-trail, and to keep dogs under control.

“We need to allow the native bunchgrasses, wildflowers and shrubs to regrow. Fresh seedlings are about to break through the ground. They are crucial for preventing invasive species from taking over and for creating much-needed biodiversity. Trees will regenerate, but they will be more naturally spaced out. This diverse landscape is better suited to adapt to our changing climate and is will be more resilient to future fires”, explains Lori Daniels.

“Wildlife that have been encroaching into residential areas over the winter due to a lack of nutrients in the forest will now have their food sources replenish. We should provide them with undisturbed space to feed and regain energy.”

Please keep dogs that run after wildlife on the leash to give hungry deer space to feed on the fresh green

Lori Daniels

“We trust that our residents and all trail users will respect our signs”, shares Wilden security manager Michael Eger. “If you prefer to venture off-trail, we kindly ask that you explore alternative areas, outside of Wilden, for your hikes and bike rides.

Please note that the entire Wilden backcountry is under camera surveillance, and regular patrols will be conducted”, shares Wilden security manager Michael Eger. During and following significant weather events such as heavy wind and rain, please refrain from entering forested areas, or leave promptly if you are already out there. In steeper terrain, there is also still a risk of erosion. You must be extra mindful of all these hazards when using our trails.”

While the main trail network has been secured as much as possible, hazardous conditions remain off-trail and in closed-off areas, ranging from holes in the ground to burnt trees that could still fall over time

If you see this No-Trespassing sign – please do not walk any further

The entire Wilden backcountry is under camera surveillance and is actively monitored. We kindly ask you to remain vigilant for posted signs and, if you encounter a “do-not-enter” sign, consider exploring alternative hiking opportunities for your safety and enjoyment.