Business owners returning to the Tyaughton Lake area yesterday after an evacuation order was downgraded say this summer could be a financial disaster if mountain bikers stay away.
Dale Douglas, a pilot with Tyax Air, said that businesses in the region rely on tourists, most of whom are bikers.
“The (mountain bike) trails are not affected,” Douglas said. “The fire is east of here.”
But with authorities and the media calling it the “Tyaughton Lake fire,” Douglas is concerned that people will think the area was devastated.
“It’s like calling a fire in New Westminster the West Vancouver fire,” he added.
The nearby world-class Spruce Lake trails are intact, according to bikeco.ca, which is encouraging bikers to support the area.
“Don’t write off Spruce for this season, get up there, do some riding and try to buy supplies while you’re there,” said a posting from Monday.
However, to the east, the situation at Marshall Lake is uncertain. Firefighters have successfully completed a controlled burn, bringing 70 per cent of the fire under control. That could change if the winds shift and the blaze remains massive at 8,000 hectares.
Victoria-born professional mountain biker Andreas Hestler said that even if the fire does reach the trails the damage will be temporary.
“Immediately afterwards it’s a big black scar on the land,” he said. “They have to close the area for a couple of years and then you get the wild flowers as nature starts to regenerate.”
But to people like Douglas, who rely on visitors to the area, a two-year closure would be devastating.
“The fire hasn’t reached here,” he said. “I’ve been through some ups and downs, we’ll get through this.”