Prescribed fire in use at the Meewasin Northeast Swale

Years of fire suppression leave the Prairies in a fire deficit, resulting in uncontrollable fuel buildups, intense and widespread fires, and a fear of what fire is capable of. But fire is a natural process that also renews life and is vital to managing healthy ecosystems.

While fire deserves our respect, prescribed fires can be used to make urban areas safer, create wildlife habitat that fights off invasive weeds, and preserve rangelands. Most importantly, it can be planned and executed in a manner that ensures a safe perimeter, has emergency resources on site, and will not be lit unless the perfect predetermined conditions exist.

Unlike wildfires that blanket our city in smoke for weeks at a time, prescribed fires allow us to plan for wind and weather conditions that minimize the presence of smoke in nearby communities. Selecting and following a prescribed fire plan, including wind speed, direction, relative humidity, and temperature, is key to removing built up fuels and allows ignition teams to wait for the weather window that will release the least amount of smoke, for the shortest amount of time.

That’s where Meewasin and the CPPFE come in

The Canadian Prairies Prescribed Fire Exchange is an inter-agency collective established to increase capacity for knowledge sharing and training surrounding the use of prescribed fire. Specifically, it advocates for its use as a management tool in Canadian prairie and parkland ecosystems.

At the same time, this organization exists to promote the safe, responsible use of prescribed fires, not to implement them.

In August, the CPPFE partnered with Meewasin to host the second Introduction to Prescribed Fire in the Grassland Environment course along with the first Landowner Workshop to the Association of Manitoba Community Pastures. Events like these are important steps in adding prescribed fire to our collective toolkits correctly.

Want to know more about prescribed fires?

Prescribed fire used in conservation at the Meewasin Northeast Swale

If you’re looking for a little knowledge, Meewasin has produced a short video featuring Renny Grilz, our Resource Management Officer. He explains what prescribed fire is, why Meewasin uses it, and how it’s implemented safely.

Always remember that prescribed fire is only to be used under very specific conditions by trained, experienced professionals. Whether you’re new to prescribed fire or have been using it for years, we encourage you to join us for some of our training events.

Please do not attempt anything you see in the following video at home, at work, or anywhere without the supervision of someone with experience and training. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Canadian Prairies Prescribed Fire Exchange.

Check out Meewasin’s prescribed fire video.

Check out the Canadian Prairies Prescribed Fire Exchange.

Check out the City of Saskatoon’s Prescribed Fire Program.

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