Parks Canada has resumed its seasonal program of making Jasper National Park safer from the possibility of wildfires.
This means that crews will be removing forest fuels by hand in strategic areas and burning the vegetation debris onsite, conditions permitting.
This is one measure that Parks Canada uses to not only reduce the risk of wildfire but also manage the impacts of the mountain pine beetle. The work is based on a larger wildfire risk evaluation and has undergone both environmental and cultural impact assessments.
As a result, there will be visible smoke in the air over the coming months. There is no need to call emergency services to report this smoke.
“The wildfire risk reduction program will be ongoing throughout the remaining of the winter season,” said Christine Brown, fire technician with Parks Canada.
People should contact local health professionals for advice if they have concerns about the smoke.
The activity will occur Monday to Friday and may extend past daylight hours. People can expect to hear chainsaws as crews work. This will continue regularly as favourable weather conditions permit likely until late March 2024.
“The smoke will likely be visible from the pile burning and may occasionally blow into town as well,” Brown said.
Most of this year’s fuel reduction will focus on the Community Fireguard, located in the area of the wide-open fuel break on Pyramid Bench along the Cabin Lake fire road, as well as removing vegetation near facilities upwind of the townsite.
“For the past five years, we've done quite a bit of work surrounding the community,” Brown said.
“We are an active member of the FireSmart program, which is one type of example of wildfire risk reduction that we use here in the park. The program itself is more of a proactive approach to community protection. Each year it's weaved into the next and we use many tools in our toolboxes to achieve that added layer of protection and safety for our community.”
People can expect to see Parks Canada and its contracted crews at multiple locations throughout the winter. This is just one facet of the work to protect the community. Prescribed fire, emergency planning, and community preparedness all play into the wildfire risk reduction program, Brown said.