FireSmart clean-up for Canyon is just the first of many

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The Canyon Creek Recreation Association (CCRA) got into the FireSmart act last month, teaming up with the regional FireSmart team and others for a community clean-up event. A group of 17 community members, plus seven from FireSmart, cut, hauled, piled and chipped dead and down wood in a stretch of bush along Southshore Drive on June 23. After the work was over they enjoyed a free barbecue, put on by the community association.

Gwen Zwick, the president of the CCRA, says she had the idea for the event, having heard about it happening in other areas around Slave Lake.

“I felt there was a need for it,” she says. “I didn’t really know how much coordination it took.”

That’s where Brandy Walters, the FireSmart Coordinator, came in, making the necessary arrangements with ATCO Gas and Electric, CN Rail, Alberta Ag & Forestry and so on. MJ Kristoff of the Lesser Slave Forest Education Society also took part, as a person certified through FireSmart Canada.

Zwick applied for and received a $500 grant to cover the barbecue, which the CCRA put on.

Zwick says it was good for the first time.

“For the small amount of people it went well,” she says. “I have a goal to go all the way along Southshore Drive and clean that up. It’s not a one-year thing.”

Similar events are expected to take place this year in and around Summerwood/Gilwood Golf Club (for the second time) and Marten Beach (for the fourth or fifth time). The difference it can make in a community, explains Walters, is it “builds community spirit, reduces the risks of wildfire due to a reduced fuel load in and around the community, removes ladder fuels (low hanging coniferous branches) so crown fires are less likely to happen, protects properties and people.”

Walters says because the CCRA has formed a FireSmart board, the plan for the remainder of this year is to apply to FireSmart Canada’s Community Recognition Program.

Some of the participants in the June 23 FireSmart community clean-up in Canyon Creek.
Photos courtesy FireSmart Committee

Young Alex Wilson pitches in during the Canyon Creek FireSmart community clean-up day on June 23. Alex was one of 17 community volunteers and seven others who cleared dead and down wood and trimmed spruce tree branches to reduce wildfire risk to the community.

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