It’s been a heck of a year for Canadians in the face of increasing wildfire risk, and we were heartened to read your Sept. 7 article on this topic, "Canmore residents encouraged to take part in wildfire evacuation study." One of the researchers, Dr. Jen Beverly, had undertaken a wildfire fuel exposure analysis for our area, and according to your article, she said there is a lot of highly flammable fuel in the forests within and surrounding the community. She said there is an abundance of fire-prone conifer forests – predominantly pine and spruce in this area.
This jives with what we’re hearing: concern from both local citizens and elected officials that we might need to do more when it comes to protecting our Bow Valley communities from widespread damage in the face of a destructive wildfire.
We would like to offer two suggestions on this front. We’re aware that several years ago the province began working on a Bow Valley wildfire and vegetation management plan – work that is still in process. We believe that this plan should be completed promptly and circulated to all relevant land managers.
The vegetation management called for in this plan would likely include reducing flammable pines and spruce, creating firebreaks and possibly new "patchy" vegetation patterns to slow or halt wildfires that threaten our communities. The other idea we’d like to put forth is that this plan, properly designed, could readily include a healthy dose of habitat enhancement for the valley’s wildlife.
The valley has seen increasing development and recreation over the past decades. It would be nice if we helped wildlife out, designing future vegetation management to not only protect our communities from fire, but create the sort of diverse and open natural landscapes that benefit many of the wildlife species we care about.
Gareth Thomson, Executive Director
Dr. Hugh Notman, Board Chair
Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley