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Christmas tree harvest reducing wildfire risk at Prince Albert National Park

Christmas tree harvest reducing wildfire risk at Prince Albert National Park
WATCH: Parks Canada staff is looking to reduce the risk for wildfires in Prince Albert National Park.

Parks Canada staff at Prince Albert National Park hope people take a piece of the park home with them this holiday season.

The park kicked off its annual Christmas tree harvest with the goal to help mitigate wildfire threats near Waskesiu.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan cabin owners advised how to help prevent wildfires from spreading

Finding a Christmas tree has become an annual tradition for Jonathan Jansen and his children.

For the last few years, they have driven just outside of the townsite to find the perfect one.

“We always get a Christmas tree every year and having it available in the park here is a wonderful thing,” said the Waskesiu resident.

Parks Canada started the program about three years ago.

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Conifer trees were growing where crews created a community fuel break in 2001.

READ MORE: Rabbit Creek wildfire ‘being held,’ not expected to grow

Staff noticed some of the trees were about the size of Christmas trees and created the project to get the community involved in maintaining the break.

Conifer trees like evergreen and spruce can accelerate a wildfire.

“The needles have a lot more oils in them. So those conifer trees are much more susceptible to fire and to spread fire and cause embers to go. They’re the trees that really create the big wildfires,” said Parks Canada ecologist Dustin Guedo.

The park said it usually releases between 150 to 250 permits to cut down trees every season, but there is never a shortage.

READ MORE: Rabbit Creek wildfire in Prince Albert National Park ‘being held’

For families like the Jansen’s, picking a tree and decorating it are some of the memories they cherish about the holiday season.

“Instead of getting gifts, it’s nice to make the memories and it’s a bonus that we can help the park in protecting our town too,” Jonathan’s partner Shaunee said.

The program started on Dec. 1 and runs until Christmas Eve.