Parks Canada actions to address mountain pine beetle impacts
Several projects are set to take place this winter in Jasper National Park, where the impacts of this native insect are most significant, as well as in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks. The majority of work planned this winter is associated with minimizing wildfire risk caused by mountain pine beetle.
Jasper National Park
• Sprinkler system for community protection: As part of ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of large wildfires around affected communities, Parks Canada will purchase a high volume sprinkler system. Used in strategic locations, such as along the community fireguard in Jasper, this system will enhance community protection, helping ensure the safety of people and critical infrastructure.
• Fire risk reduction at the Cultural Use Area: Parks Canada is committed to deepening and strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples. The Cultural Use Area in Jasper National Park is a dedicated cultural space established in cooperation with Indigenous partners of the Park. In recent years, mountain pine beetle has killed a very large number of pine trees, which elevates fire risk. Parks Canada is undertaking a project to reduce the threat to the Cultural Use Area posed by wildland fires, to ensure that our Indigenous partners are able to more safely use this space.
• FireSmart: This winter, Parks Canada and the Municipality of Jasper will conduct community protection and wildfire prevention work (FireSmart) in areas surrounding the Town of Jasper. This proactive work will ensure the continued safety of residents, visitors and critical infrastructure.
• Hazard tree removal in campgrounds: For the protection of campers in Jasper National Park, Parks Canada will remove trees killed by mountain pine beetle in Wapiti and Wabasso campgrounds this winter. Removing dead trees in mountain pine beetle-affected forests considerably reduces the risk of trees falling, the amount of fuel surrounding campsites, and the risk of wildfire spread. The campgrounds will be temporarily closed to ensure this important work can be conducted safely.
• Campground restoration: Planting replacement trees in areas where trees have been removed for public safety is an important part of restoring forest habitat in Jasper National Park. Each year, Jasper National Park transplants thousands of local native trees from FireSmart-maintained areas. Transplanted trees are primarily Douglas fir, which have strong fire-resistant qualities and provide important habitat structures in popular spaces like the Park’s campgrounds.
Banff National Park
• FireSmart: This winter, Parks Canada will continue its yearly FireSmart work adjacent to the Town of Banff, ensuring the continued safety of residents, visitors and critical infrastructure.
• Landscape fire breaks: Parks Canada will perform fuel management activities this winter, such as debris removal in the West Sulphur firebreak, and will maintain and improve the Minnewanka/Cascade firebreak. Firebreak planning and fuel management will also take place in and around the village of Lake Louise and near Protection Mountain. These activities are intended to provide additional protection from wildfires in the Bow and Cascade valleys of Banff National Park.
• Wildfire risk reduction planning: To further increase resilience to forest insects, disease and wildfire, Parks Canada will plan additional fuel management and prescribed fire units. Fuel management activities such as prescribed fire and forest thinning will help to control the negative impacts of mountain pine beetle and historic fire suppression.
Yoho and Kootenay National Parks
• FireSmart: Work will continue to protect at-risk lodgepole pine stands, through enhanced FireSmart activities.
• Mountain pine beetle planning: A strategic plan will be developed to identify important pine stands, and determine how best to monitor and protect them. This work will also support the conservation of whitebark pine, an endangered species.
Parks Canada will continue to work together with Natural Resources Canada and the governments of British Columbia and Alberta to address the challenges posed by the spread of mountain pine beetle in national parks and surrounding forests.
For more information about the management of fire and mountain pine beetle in the mountain national parks, visit https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/nature/science/conservation/feu-fire/feuveg-fireveg
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