For the Lakeside Leader
If you’re new to this area, welcome! It’s a great place to live or to visit, there’s a wonderful lake or two nearby and you’re sure to find a vibrant collection of people wherever you go.
It’s extraordinary country, complete with enviable sunsets and sunrises, loaded with all kinds of creatures, big and small. And here we are together in this unique environment known as the ‘boreal forest’.
Wildfires are a naturally occurring element in the boreal forest, it keeps the forest healthy and in balance. Wildfire recycles nutrients, helps plants reproduce and creates diverse habitats that benefit all kinds of critters.
Chances are you have heard there were significant fires back in 2011 in our region. Those wildfire circumstances were unprecedented and extreme.
Despite the best efforts of firefighters, many homes were lost. And you’ve heard about FireSmart too, right?
Living ‘FireSmart’ means there are ways to live with and manage for wildfires in such a place as this vast and picturesque boreal forest.
Preparing for the threat of wildfire is a shared responsibility. From home owners to industry and government, we all have responsibility to lessen the effects of wildfire.
Case in point, right after the wildfire of 2011, there was a group who got together, known as the FireSmart Regional Action Team (FRAT), the original FireSmart team in our region. Tri Council was formed shortly thereafter and the FireSmart Committee was relocated under their umbrella.
The FireSmart Committee’s mandate continues to be an advisement to the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Tri Council on the implementation of the philosophy, culture and practice of FireSmart within the region.
Tri Council was given $20 million in provincial funding after the 2011 Flat Top wildfires caused approximately 15,000 people to evacuate communities in the region. This FireSmart funding was given with the intent to mitigate the risks of wildfire and to create a workable model for the development of a sustainable, regional FireSmart community.
From there, the FireSmart Committee designed a four-man vegetation management and firefighter crew, a Rural Ops Deputy Chief role, supplied FireSmart educators through the Lesser Slave Forest Education Society and the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory, and, most recently, formed and filled a FireSmart LSR Coordinator position.
These people work along with Alberta Agriculture & Forestry folk to reduce fuel loads in the forest. They also educate people about wildfire and the many ways to reduce risk individually and collectively. And they participate in planning as a community to be as pre-emptive and as responsive as possible.
In the coming months, you’ll read more about the work being done by the FireSmart Committee and you will learn more about how to live ‘FireSmart’ – it’s easier than you think!
And you will see opportunities to get involved and make a difference. Stay connected – ‘Like’ FireSmart Lesser Slave Region on Facebook, Tweet along with us on Twitter and check us out on Instagram.