There were extraordinarily few wildfires in Jasper National Park this season, with resource conservation staff only extinguishing one small blaze on Sept. 24.
That lone fire happened at the Snaring Overflow Campground, making 2011 one of the slowest fire seasons on record, according to Jasper National Park fire staff. Typically, fire crews respond to more than 20 wildfires in a season.
Wet and cool temperatures for much of the summer kept the threat of wildfires at bay. There were only 13 days this season in which the fire danger was rated at “high” and just three days in which it was rated at “extreme.” Last year, by comparison, saw the danger rating at “high” or “extreme” for nearly half the season.
Strategic fire control lines were also completed this autumn at three locations: Mount Tekarra; between the western tips of Patricia Lake and Cabin Lake; and near Minaga Creek, about 15 kilometres west of town.
These lines are five-metre-wide strips where trees and other flammable material are removed, a measure aimed at helping contain or suppress wildfires upwind of the town site.
Fire control work will slow in the winter, but some activity will continue. As conditions allow, the park’s fire team plans to burn small piles of material left over from fireguard construction. This burning will take place on Pyramid Bench and near Jasper’s east gate. Residents may notice some smoke.
Come spring, prescribed burning is set to begin at the Fiddle River Complex. This is a series of four sub-units located along the Athabasca River Valley at the east boundary of the park, totalling about 300 hectares. The prescribed burn is part of a strategy to protect the Yellowhead corridor from wildfires originating in Jasper National Park.
The first sub-unit due for burning is a 46-hectare region on Bedson Ridge. Once complete, the project will provide a valley-wide fireguard.