East Boundary Fuel Break
Prince Albert National Park fire personnel began creating the East Boundary Fuel Break this winter. Developing the fuel break fulfils an action set out in the Prince Albert National Park Fire Management Plan that was drafted through consultation with other fire management agencies, key partners and interested stakeholders.
The new East Boundary Fuel Break between Prince Albert National Park and Elk Ridge Resort and community, combined with the adjacent fuel break created by the Ministry of Environment’s Wildfire Management Branch last winter, will provide an important feature to help slow down a wildfire that threatens park neighbours.
Beginning in December 2017, fire personnel started thinning 15 hectares of spruce forest. The fuel break will stretch half a kilometre along Highway 264 near the East Gate park entrance and 1 km north of the highway, along the park boundary parallel to Elk Ridge. Other plans over the next few winters include expanding the East Boundary Fuel Break on the south side of the highway and enlarging the Waskesiu Community Fuel Break. (see map)
What is a fuel break?
A fuel break is an area where coniferous trees (trees with needles) and forest floor woody fuels are removed. These are the fuels that burn hot and fast in dry conditions while leafy trees and bushes burn more slowly. By creating an area that is predominantly aspen and grassland, a wildfire that comes in contact with the fuel break is more likely to move from rolling through the tree tops of pine, fir and spruce to a ground fire that is easier for fire personnel to manage. The fuel break requires maintenance as organic material accumulates through the years. Prescribed fire and hand thinning will be used.
A fuel break does appear like a drastic measure in the beginning, but the area will recover and rejuvenate with fresh foliage within one to two years. Coniferous forest in the park and this region is large enough that creating these small fuel breaks will not cause harm to any species. The area will provide habitat that is preferred by certain native species, especially songbirds, and will allow them to flourish.
What can cottage and home owners do?
While a fuel break can bring the fire to the ground where it is easier to fight, people can do other things to lessen the chance that the fire will spread into their communities. FireSmart Canada is a nationally recognized agency that has information and actions for people to use. For more information visit https://www.firesmartcanada.ca