Every year, communities are evacuated and properties are destroyed in wildfires across North America. Many of these fires occur in the ‘wildland-urban interface’ – an area where homes and businesses are nestled among trees along the edge of a forest or other flammable vegetation. The townsite of Waskesiu, in Prince Albert National Park, is surrounded by 3,785 square kilometres of wilderness and is an example of the wildland-urban interface in central Saskatchewan.

Parks Canada takes wildfire preparedness seriously and is taking preventative measures to reduce the risk from potential wildfires to Waskesiu and neighbouring communities. The continued development of a strong wildfire risk reduction strategy with supporting projects is essential to ensure public safety, enhance visitor experience, and protect natural and cultural resources.

Fuel break

A fuel break is an area where coniferous trees (trees with needles) and woody debris on the forest floor are removed. This helps to slow the speed of an approaching wildfire, and provides time to evacuate the population if required or defend the community.

The Waskesiu Community Fuel Break, created in 2001-2002, and the east boundary fuel break, established in 2017 reduce the fuel load adjacent to the communities of Waskesiu and Elk Ridge.

FireSmart Demonstration Area

The FireSmart demonstration area is 4 hectares of vegetation in the Waskesiu townsite that is actively managed to address the wildfire reality of the fire-dependent ecosystems found in Prince Albert National Park. Adjacent to the Waskesiu Golf Course and Highway 263, Parks Canada is using fuel management strategies to showcase the FireSmart priority zones and to help protect critical park infrastructure in the event of a wildfire. See, read, and learn about the principles of the FireSmart program in practice, and understand how to apply the same principles to properties located in the wildland-urban interface. (see map)

Waskesiu townsite

Pockets of mature and unmanaged forest in the Waskesiu townsite are highly flammable and reduce the effectiveness of the Community Fuel Break. Fire can spread rapidly from tree to tree and produce embers that may land on nearby homes or businesses, quickly generating multiple fires.

Beginning in December 2019, Prince Albert National Park is actively managing an area of densely grouped mature spruce trees and underbrush in Waskesiu, contained by the Red Deer Campground entry road, Ajawaan Road, Baker’s Waskesiu Bungalows and the Waskesiu Bungalows. The area was assessed in 2018 and selected for wildfire risk reduction operations due to the high hazard and close proximity of mature spruce trees. Over time, the open forest canopy will provide new habitat for songbirds, elk and deer and the growth of new and more diverse plant life. (see map)

map

What you can do

FireSmart is a nationwide program designed to help protect people, infrastructure and surrounding lands from wildfire. Home and business owners can take simple steps to help reduce the risk from potential wildfires to their properties. Taking small actions around your property can help reduce fire spread and improve your home and community’s resilience to wildfire damage.

Get started by following these easy FireSmart tips:

  • Remove piles of sticks, dry leaves and fallen trees from around your home
  • Clear gutters, eaves and vents
  • Keep windows clear
  • Trim trees
  • Keep porches and decks clear or screened
  • Screen or seal all soffits
  • Take care of your lawn - keep sprinklers handy

Learn how to assess your property’s risk from wildfire using FireSmart. Pick up a FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual at the Prince Albert National Park Visitor Centre or visit www.firesmartcanada.ca.

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