Parks Canada Plans Massive Fireguards

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Parks Canada is planning a series of large-scale fireguards to act as containment lines to safeguard communities in the Bow Valley of Banff National Park (Alberta) in the event of out-of-control wildfires.

As per a report, under the proposed plans, a huge area will be logged in to build a fireguard close to Protection Mountain campground, spanning from the Bow Valley Parkway to the eastern slope of Protection Mountain east of Lake Louise.

There is also a proposal to create a continuous valley-wide forest-fuel break that runs to the west of Lake Louise from the south slope of Mount St. Piran to the cleared ski area runs on Whitehorn Mountain, requiring large scale forest thinning.

Parks Canada fire experts stated that preliminary investigations are being conducted to determine a potential large fireguard between the old Highway 93A, the Lake O’Hara Road, and Ross Lake.

“As the climate is changing and fire seasons are getting longer, and the impact fire suppression has had on fuels, proactive fire management is something Parks Canada is doing,” said Charlie McLellan, fire and vegetation specialist for Lake Louise Yoho and Kootenay field unit.

“That includes FireSmart around facilities and some of these larger landscape-level projects, whether that’s prescribed fires or a strategic fireguard to stop fires if they start or have an area to contain them,” McLellan added.

McLellan said that having none of these features makes it challenging to stop fires, and they will burn a lot longer, and then the impacts of smoke are a lot longer.

Work on the Protection Mountain fireguard would tie into an existing natural rock slide within the area. The project is not expected to start until next winter at the earliest. 

Parks Canada officials say any logging would not occur for the Protection Mountain fireguard until all engagement and impact assessment processes are complete and no additional considerations are raised.

This story originally appeared on RMO Today.

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