Nanaimo landowner urges people to dig ponds to fight wildfires

CHEK
WatchWATCH: A Nanaimo landowner and tree farmer has doubled his water reservoir to help forest firefighting helicopters this summer. Mike Gogo's property was next to the massive Nanaimo Lakes blaze last summer that threatened many properties. As Skye Ryan reports, he is urging others with ponds to prepare for this summer's firefight now.

Mike Gogo’s love of his family farm runs deep.

“You can’t take this for granted,” said Gogo.

“It’s too good to take for granted.”

The farm outside Nanaimo goes back three generations and to help ensure it’s here for many more, he has now doubled his farm water reservoir to help protect it from forest fires.

“Helicopter can come directly here, pick up the water,” said Gogo.

“Bam fire’s out. Time is everything in a fire.”

Gogo’s decision comes in the wake of the Nanaimo Lakes wildfire that burned up dangerously close to Gogo’s 400-acre tree farm last August and evacuated nearly 80 nearby properties.

Gogo estimates his pond now holds as many as 1,000 helicopter water bucket loads to scoop into and drop on the flames if they break out in the forested backcountry behind Nanaimo this summer.

He is now urging more landowners with ponds to do the same.

“I think the private people have to if they’ve got wetlands,” said Gogo.

“They’ve got to expand them and open them up so that the forest service, fire departments, volunteer fire departments can avail themselves of that water. It should be a write-off because it benefits everybody.”

The province said that plan may be worth considering. In a statement to CHEK News the Ministry of Finance said it:

“…welcomes input from the public and considers tax policy proposals and changes during the yearly budget process.”

In the meantime, there have been 57 fires in the coastal region this year, up from 48 this time last year. So officials are embracing a forecast that’s calling for much-needed rain.

“There may be some substantial showers coming down,” said Coastal Fire Information Officer Marg Drysdale.

“So we are very excited to see that and hoping that the forests get hydrated.”

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