The roar of chainsaws are echoing through the Bow Valley followed by the smell of burning wood. Fire mitigation crews are hard at work trying to clear deadfall and thin out aging forests ripe to burn in and around the Banff townsite.
The threat of forest fire is very real in the mountain park and the winter months are used to help decrease that threat. Next week, a much larger project will be launched on the west side of Banff’s Sulphur Mountain.
“Logging equipment will be brought in and crews will be thinning the forest and taking out small diameter trees.” said Parks Canada’s Jane Park. “Basically we are trying to reduce the fuel on that slope if a fire were to come from the south or the west.”
Watch below: (From August 2018) Wildfires in B.C. have communities like Banff wondering if they’re prepared for wildfires themselves. As Jayme Doll reports, the threat for the mountain town is very real.
Seventy-four hectares of forest will be thinned over the next few months, but the entire project will cover 350 hectares over multiple years.
The useable logs will be sent to a mill and the money will go back to the contractor to offset the cost.
Parks Canada said the removal of trees and deadfall will also create desirable habitat for grizzly bears in the area. Some conservationists worry logging in any national park could become a slippery slope.
“Is it unimaginably bad that we might remove some trees to reduce fire risk around Banff? No,” Harvey Locke said. “Is it really a bad idea to develop a general revenue stream addiction to logging revenue in Banff (National) Park? It’s a really bad idea.”
There have been other projects like this in Banff National Park. Parks Canada said all the resulting revenue is put back into fire mitigation projects. Locke said he hopes it will stay that way.
There will be some closures along the Sundance Trail near Banff’s Cave and Basin.
Parks Canada is restricting the time of day crews can work and when trucks can move logs. The park is hoping to have as little impact on the wildlife and public as possible. This first phase of the project should be wrapped up by April.