Wildfire risk reduction efforts includes tree limbing as demonstrated by this Parks Canada crew member seen here at work on the Signal Mountain Fire Guard last winter. | Luuk Wijk / Parks CanadaScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Wood in Jasper National Park is not the same as it is in Banff National Park, at least when it comes to what is available for each of their municipality’s residents to collect as firewood.

Jasperite Troy Davis wrote a recent email to the Fitzhugh wondering why locals could no longer purchase firewood from either deadfall or Parks Canada’s fire management efforts.

“Years ago, there was a program through the fire hall or Parks where you paid for a permit and they let us know where there was wood,” he said.

The opportunity would be a win-win, he explained, if only it would be allowed again.

“It would help in reducing the fuel in forests. Less carbon footprint, as we would not be driving hours away or having others driving to deliver.”

His email came with a copy of a Parks Canada notice from the Nov. 30 edition of the Rocky Mountain Outlook, based in Canmore. The advisory indicated that Banff residents could apply for a free Parks Canada Restricted Activity Permit to collect firewood and/or cut down a Christmas tree at select locations throughout Banff National Park. Doing so without the permit, it indicated, would be unlawful.

“Removing trees and wood from pre-approved locations helps to support Banff National Park wildfire risk reduction initiatives,” stated Alexandria Jones, fire communications officer with the Banff Field Unit.

There is still much ongoing wildfire risk reduction work taking place in Jasper National Park, too. A month ago, the local crew had finished a significant portion of the work on the community fire guard along the Cabin Lake fire road closer to the water treatment facility. The work included selectively removing vegetation, brushing and burning debris piles, some of which had been left from previous years, as conditions would allow.

The crew then went out and worked around Alpine Village. These operations are designated to occur Monday to Friday though they may continue past daylight hours until March 31 as long as the ground remains frozen, and site conditions are favourable.

“As active partners in the FireSmart program, Parks Canada and the Municipality of Jasper are working cooperatively to reduce the risks and impacts of wildland fire to the community,” read an emailed statement from a spokesperson for the Jasper Field Unit.

There partners offered a Firewood Collection Program to Jasper residents as part of the community FireSmart program in 2019 and 2020. The program helped to limit the amount of pile burning around the community. 

Residents were required to purchase a firewood permit through the Municipality of Jasper. The revenue from those permits went towards the community FireSmart program, and any extra went to other wildfire risk reduction work and other FireSmart projects.

“Over the past two years, efforts to reduce wildfire risks have shifted to locations outside the municipal boundary, making them less accessible to the public. Currently, there are no planned projects that would be appropriate to make this offer to the residents of Jasper,” the statement continued.

“Parks Canada will continue to reduce wildfire risks in the Jasper community, but our focus will be on maintaining existing community wildfire risk reduction and FireSmart projects. As we move forward in partnership with the Municipality of Jasper, we will continue to investigate the potential of offering firewood permits to residents and will update residents if this initiative is offered again.”

 The statement noted that Jasper National Park is exploring a Christmas tree harvest program that would support its wildfire risk reduction objectives in a location with an adequate distribution of trees that is easily accessible to all. An update on that will also be provided later this year if the initiative is approved.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 07, 2024 at 16:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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