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Parks on Fire

Adding Fuel to Fire

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Audio Podcast 1: Adding Fuel to Fire  

Narrator:
Fire Communications Officer, Kim Weir

''Hi, I’m Kim Weir, and this is Parks on Fire. Episode 1: Adding Fuel to Fire.

Fire fascinates yet frightens us. At times it has been an ally, at others, an enemy. In national parks, we have grappled with the issue of fire for over 100 years. For most of that time, park managers – and our society – have viewed fire as a destructive force, and extinguished it.

In 1914, JB Harkin was the Commissioner of this park. He declare fire our enemy:

“Fire is, of course, the most serious menace”

When fires broke out, we did our best to gather as many resources as we could, to put the fire out.

Long time resident Neil Wilson remembers park wardens rounding up firefighters in one of the more popular establishments. ''

Neil Wilson:
long-time Jasper resident

''Ya, so I remember back in the 60s, when there were the big fires in the Chaba, that they would come in the bar to pick up the guys to go to the fires. And so the guys got smart and they would run out the back - they sort of had an outlook. So then the people that were picking up the guys got smart too - they would park the big vans or busses out the back and then send the people in the front the pick them and, ya that solved the problem. ''

Narrator:
Fire Communications Officer, Kim Weir


''We’ve come a long way in how we manage fire. Aboriginal people and science tell us that fire is old. It has been part of grassland, brush and forest ecosystems for as long as they have existed. Like storms, avalanches and floods, it is a powerful force of change in nature. When fire is prevented from acting on the landscape, there are big consequences.

Fire specialist Dave Smith explains. ''

Dave Smith:
Fire and Vegetation Specialist

''You can look into the forest and you can see this giant fuel load of trees, one on top of the other. Those fuels eventually will burn. When they burn, one of the real concerns that we have is that they’ll burn very hot. When you have a fire that burns very hot, it not only will burn the surface, but the potential is for those fuels to burn down below the soil and kill all the seeds, all the root systems, and everything that - generally speaking - should grow up really quickly after a fire, if it’s not a severe fire. ''

Narrator:
Fire Communications Officer, Kim Weir


''Many ecosystems have evolved with fire and depend on it for renewal. ''

Dave Smith:
Fire and Vegetation Specialist

''Basically what fire does is it restores – it’s is an ecological restorer. It’s not killing the forest at all. just go in and look at the different shrubs, the different types of leaves that you see on those shrubs, the different plants, the different flowers that you see, the different grasses, and the different trees. Do that in an old forest, and then go into a new forest – a forest that’s been recently burned – and see the difference. And in the new forest, what you’ll find, is often there will be 20, 25, 30 different species that you’ll see. Where in the old forest you’ll see 4 or 5 maybe?''

Narrator:
Fire Communications Officer, Kim Weir


''Today, Parks Canada recognizes the importance of fire and practices fire management; a combination of fire protection and fire use. ''

Dave Smith:
Fire and Vegetation Specialist

''
One of the things that we’re trying to achieve with fire management is what mother nature achieved before the influence of suppression. We’ve actually got really, really good at putting fires out. The result of which is we now have a carpet of forest that’s all the same stand age. We don’t have that biodiversity that we so need in order to have a healthy forest. So by burning, what we’re actually doing is fertilising the ground, opening up the area so more sunlight can get in, and basically, starting anew.
Fire is good. ''

Narrator:
Fire Communications Officer, Kim Weir

''You’ve been listening to Parks on Fire, a podcast developed by Parks Canada’s Fire Management Team. ''

Narrator:
This audio program was a production of Parks Canada, an agency of the Government of Canada responsible for Canada’s national parks, national marine conservation areas and many of Canada’s national historic sites. To learn more about Parks Canada, to download more podcasts and to find accessible transcripts of our podcasts please visit the Parks Canada website at www.parkscanada.gc.ca.

The contents of this audio file are the copyright of Parks Canada 2011. This podcast series is also available in French on i-Tunes as well as the Parks Canada’s website. Ce balado est également disponible en français sur i-Tunes de même que le site web de Parcs Canada. Thanks for listening.