Information about fire and vegetation management was recently provided to the Village of Radium Hot Springs by Gregg Walker, Fire Management Officer at Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks Field Unit. Radium council accepted the fire management update at the regular Wednesday, February 24th Village of Radium Hot Springs council meeting.
“I presented an update of ongoing fire activities in the south end of Kootenay National Park, within proximity to Radium,” said Walker on Friday, March 4th. “We focused on what was pertinent and what was going on in the community close to Radium.”
He believes the councillors at the Village of Radium Hot Springs were receptive to the report.
“I felt like, and generally feel like, they’re appreciative that we’re in there a couple of times a year, updating them and also they’re quite interested in what we’re doing,” said Walker.
The biggest difference in the information that Walker provided to council at the last meeting from previous meetings was the new forest restoration project near Radium Hot Springs. In order to restore the historic open forest-grassland condition to this forest, the thick vegetation must be thinned first, and then treated with prescribed fire.
“We’ve been talking about it and year after year; we’ve been working on it,” said Walker. “This year, what we were presenting is that we’ll actually do some prescribed fire in that area… that will occur at either the end of this month or early in April if weather permits.”
The goal, he added, is to keep the community informed and updated about ongoing work within the park.
“Within Parks Canada, we’re doing fire management in a way that first of all puts public safety, public property, infrastructure and the protection of it foremost,” he concluded, noting the number of prescribed fires and restoration activities has increased over the past several years to boost vegetation and fire prevention (previously-burned areas can stop a new fire from spreading).
“You’ll also hear us talking about allowing some fire and that fire is a natural part of the ecosystem — that’s our secondary priority, to allow fire to be a natural part of the ecosystem because it’s healthy for the national parks and for all of the lands so we’re trying to balance those two things and we do that through active fire management.”