Work Begins On Fireguard Project

·2 min read

Work has started on the Swan Hills Fireguard project. Lead by the Town of Swan Hills, this project is being completed through a partnership between the Town, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Blue Ridge Lumber. During the week of Feb. 22, Blue Ridge began clearing trees alongside the fire road on the east side of Swan Hills to make way for the 50 – 100 meter wide fireguard. The proposed fireguard will follow the fire road to reduce the amount of established forest that will need to be cleared, widening the existing cleared area around the road instead of levelling a new path through the forested areas surrounding the town. Altogether, roughly 41 hectares will be cleared for this project.

Blue Ridge will harvest the saleable timber within the fireguard's planned path as the first step to clearing this area. Once Blue Ridge has made enough progress in their operations to allow for it, a mulching company will be contracted to mulch the remaining material. The removal of the standing timber, deadfall, and standing deadfall is part of a vegetation management strategy to eliminate or at least reduce potential fuel for wildfires. While this strategy will not stop a wildfire on its own, it would slow the wildfire’s advance to give firefighters more time to attempt to get it under control. The fireguard will also give firefighters space to set up their operations.

While the sight and sounds of logging operations so close to Swan Hills may be disturbing to some town residents, it is important to remember that this is a planned operation to decrease the town's wildfire risk. Once the fireguard has been completed, the Town of Swan Hills will be engaging in maintenance and upkeep operations regarding the fireguard and FireSmarting activities around the town going forward.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette